Friday-- June 7, 2002—Ground
Zero Plus 268
Ho Chi Minh's Advice To President Bush On Ambassadors Of
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
GROUND ZERO, New York City,
June 7--Last night my wife and I finished watching a video tape of the
HBO special on President Lyndon Johnson's battle with Terrorism. It
was called "The Path to War," a powerful drama reenacting what
LBJ--Lyndon Baines Johnson--suffered during his endless and fruitless
battle to win the war in Vietnam.
Insidiously, the war sucked the marrow from all
his personal resources, emasculating him emotionally, morally and
At the end of his term, he decided not to run for
reelection. Ho Chi Minh had won.
The Vietnam War
bulldogged him and his dreams of the "Great Society" into the ground.
His political rodeo days were over.
Ironically, as we turned off the video tape, the
screen flashed with a picture of President George Bush. He was
reciting his recent decision to form yet another multi-billion sinkhole to
fight Terrorism. It was a new Cabinet Post with sweeping plans
to reorganize our security systems so we might fight Terrorism better.
As I watched President Bush wax on about
how this was the "solution" to helping win the war on Terrorism, I thought
of LBJ thinking that his Rolling Thunder plans to bomb the Viet Cong out
of existence would work. Instead, it backfired. Years of
saturation bombing didn't stop the Viet Cong's ability to continue their
fight, or to rally and muster new strength even when, under any
conventional military standards, they should be screaming "uncle" and
rushing to the bargaining table.
Our current war on Terrorism, like the Vietnam War, is
a guerrilla war. Our enemies hit and run. Their
supply and tactical networks are formed under a spider web of cells,
each cell individual, capable of rendering pain and suffering by itself.
Killing any one cell does not impact the body, just an appendage.
Once a finger or leg is cut off, another grows almost as fast. It is
like running bamboo, as soon as you hack one root, another springs up
behind you. You tire from chopping. The Running Bamboo always
wins unless you get down and dig out each and every root by hand.
In Vietnam I remember the Viet Cong cell
tunnels--a massive network of underground highways vermiculating through
the country. Trap doors popped up here and there so the Viet
Cong could escape, or slip up behind you and snipe, then disappear and run
down another cave's path to reappear hundreds of yards away to snipe
Some caves were latticed into massive living
and supply centers, capable of providing shelter and security from anyone
searching above. You could literally walk over the top of the enemy
and never know it.
George Bush's plan reminded me of the folly of
government back in the 60's and 70's as it scrambled to find conventional
ways to fight an unconventional enemy. Reshuffling the top of
government to create
Homeland Security Department is hardly a way to fight Terrorism, I thought
as I listened to his ambitious plan to absorb a huge swath of the
executive branch, including all of the Coast Guard, Secret Service,
Federal Emergency Management Agency, Immigration and Naturalization
Service and Customs Service, as well as the new agency in charge of
airport security, the Transportation Security Administration.
Ridge, Director of Homeland Security)
I saw it as a shell game. Nothing changes,
but everything moves around.
The public sees the walnut sliding all over the
place and becomes mesmerized thinking things will be better. But
when they think Osama bin Laden is under the shell in the middle, the con
man lifts it up and it is empty.
Reorganization may be a nice way to try and
dupe the public into thinking it is adding new power to fight an old
enemy, or, it may be a desperate attempt to get votes in the upcoming
elections, but as a tool to fight guerrilla Terrorism, it is nothing more
than another example of LBJ's Rolling Thunder. Ultimately, it
is a bomb. It will explode in the President's face.
Because Terrorism isn't about attacking
America in a conventional manner. That's the problem.
Terrorism is about infecting the public with Fear, Intimidation and
Complacency. Attacks are only a minor strategic tool, Fear is
the major one. Yet government is massing itself to thwart another
Twin Towers attack.
The U.S. government's ability to stop
a suicide bomber from walking into Times Square and pulling the rip cord
is nil. Terrorist cells already have their plans.
They've had them for years. They sit and wait to execute them.
They wait until Complacency grows, as Fear wanes. One suicide
bomber a year is sufficient for them to poison the hearts and minds of all
Americans. Terrorists don't need to blow up any more precious
American icons to prove they are able to penetrate our defenses--they've
already proved that with the U.S.S. Cole, the World Trade Center, and the
Pentagon. Were it not for Todd Beamer and other brave passengers of
Flight 93 who rushed the Terrorists, they might also have taken out the
Now, if anything, the Terrorists want only to
keep the fire smoking. A suicide bomb here, a water system
poisoned there, some anthrax in the mail, or, just dropping off anonymous
emails about a pending plot will score major headlines and send Americans
rushing for their Terrorism Shelters, just as A-Bomb threats did in the
Terrorism is about biting us
to death by ducks. Osama bin Laden snipers
just sit in the trees and pick off whomever they want.
Then they run and hide. They don't have to worry about
promoting September 11th, we'll do that every time there's an
incident. Our news media will rake government over the
coals for not having the ability to stop Terrorism.
Voters will unelect impotent leaders only to elect new impotent
leaders who will, as LBJ did, fall into the same trap of thinking
government can stop Terrorism from the top down.
If it were a matter of more government and
more security, Israel would be growing roses
today, not burying its dead every day. No nation has more experience
than they in fighting Terrorism.
The easy way to get Terrorism off our
backs is to bend to Osama bin Laden's will--that is, hand over Israel to
the Middle East. Perhaps then he'll leave us alone.
Ultimately, that's what he wants.
His power and force is all about negotiating for his bully demands to rid
Western influence from the Middle East.. And what better prize can
we offer him to leave us alone than our support of Israel?
But there is, as anyone who has ever dealt
with bullies knows, a danger in conceding to them. Behind
every bully is another bully. We give up Israel today, and
tomorrow a new Osama bin Laden pops up and wants Taiwan.
Hmmmmm... Well, what the heck, we gave up Israel, why not Taiwan?
Oh, but there's Cuba too. Just ninety miles
away. And, South and Central America?
The appetite of bullies is ravenous, especially
when they learn they can feast at will with just a few suicide bombers
here or there, or a few gas attacks, or a few dirty bombs planted in
heavily populated areas.
In the final analysis, the American public is the
only force that can stop Terrorism. We, the People, are the
only true line of first defense, not the CIA, FBI, Homeland Security or
any other layer upon layer government attempts to place in hopes it can
see the trees not the forest. The higher government grows, the
less it can see the trees, and the safer the Terrorists are. More
budgets, more departments, more bureaucracies only clouds government's
vision rather than focus it.
Oddly, it's an inversely proportional dilemma.
The more government piles up funds up to fight Terrorism, the less
effective it is in winning the war. Ask LBJ!
Wait, he died, some say from the sorrow of
Who else has experience?
there's Bob McNamara, former Secretary of Defense. We can ask him
how "Great Government Plans" crumble in the face of guerrilla warfare.
He'll tell you through his tears of remorse how fruitless it is.
It's too bad Ho Chi Minh is dead. He should
be the one elected to sit as head of the President's Homeland Security
Cabinet head. No one would be better at giving the President
advice than he on fighting Terrorism.
Terrorism lives in caves not in castles.
It is made up of cells not of Democratic structures. It
thrives on creating Fear, Intimidation and Complacency, not on building
Courage, Conviction and Right Action.
So why play into its hands by creating more
structure? Why build the government bigger when all that creates is
another Twin Tower of government? No matter how many agencies
creates, a bomb here or there can emasculate his most ambitious
plans. He is trapped in a half filled bathtub, shackled there
by Terrorism's primal tactics, while one hungry piranha swims about his
loins.. All the Cabinet posts and reshuffling in the world can't
stop the guerrillas from slipping through the cracks in the floor. One
Terrorist at a time, willing to blow himself or herself to kingdom come
for the chance to go to Paradise and collect $25,000 for his or her
family, can destroy any faith the American public might have in all the
That's why Ho Chi Minh would be his advisor.
Ho Chi Minh would suggest a far more difficult
task for government. He would suggest the reduction of
government, not the expansion of it. He would advise
America to create cells within its communities designing them to stand
face-to-face against the Terrorist cells. It would be one cell
fighting another cell, a kind of hand-to-hand combat played out in the
8,600 communities of America with populations between 30-40,000.
He would carve America's 280 million people up into
community cells as our original forefathers did when they drafted the
Constitution of the United States. He would create one
Anti-Terrorist representative per 30,000 population, just as our
forefathers designed the formula into the original Constitution.
He would tell President Bush that this formula of
1:30,000 allowed one person to communicate effectively with his
constituents. He would remind the President that there were
only 8 to 10,000 households per 30,000 population--not that many for one
representative to get to know intimately over a short period of time.
He would note they were structured
much like a Vietnamese village, centering around a hub of activity and
cite the fact that each of these communities already enjoyed a
communication structure, a mayor, a city council and local community
support systems such as fire, police, hospitals, churches, schools and a
He would call them the "perfect anti-terrorism
"You wouldn't have to build anything," he would
say. "It already exists. All you have to do is tap into the
existing system and let their community heart pump your anti-terrorism
blood to the appendages of the community."
President Bush would scratch his head but
continue to listen.
Ho Chi Minh would continue. He would tell
President Bush that each Anti-Terrorist Community Representative would
hold various rallies within the community--at the schools, churches,
senior centers, city government buildings, fire stations, police stations,
hospitals, civic halls and public parks. These rallies would
encourage the members of the community to become active participants of an
anti-terrorism cell system. They would be responsible for stopping
terrorism at their doorsteps.
Again, the President would scratch his
Ho Chi Minh would laugh and stroke his
long, stringy chin whiskers.
He would tell the President that he wanted
the community to be sold on becoming Citizens of Vigilance.
Each member of the community would be given a Pledge of Vigilance to sign.
It would describe in a very simple way that Terrorism was about infecting
an individual, a family, a community with Fear, Intimidation and
Complacency. He would go on to tell the people present that if
they were to show Terrorism that they stood for Vigilance, and they acted
in accordance to the Principles of Vigilance, the odds were that
Terrorists would not bother trying to strike Fear, or Intimidation or
drive the community into a state of Complacency. Instead, the
Terrorists would probably break camp and move on to another community more
likely to be afflicted by Terrorism.
"You mean, if a community stands up
to a bully, the bully goes away?" President Bush would say this with
wide eyes, starting to realize what was being unfolded.
Ho Chi Minh would nod, but then add that the plan would only
work if the people in the communities believed in Vigilance
with their hearts and souls. And, he would add,
that is hard in America where everyone is worried about paying
bills and creature comforts. But Ho Chi Minh would not
be without ways to make that happen even in a capitalistic
He would tell the President that the
children were the key to making the community stick to a deep, honest
commitment to Vigilance. The Pledge of Vigilance, he would
say, must be focused on helping children fight the Terrorism
of their Fears, their Intimidations and their Complacencies.
Nothing of value, he would say, happens unless a
society commits its decisions to the children. Then and only then
will its members fight to the death for their rights.
Ho Chi Minh would lay out a plan to free children
of internal Terrorism. He would show the President how classes
and community meetings would be organized for Parents of Vigilance,
Grandparents of Vigilance, Sisters and Brothers of Vigilance, Uncles and
Aunts of Vigilance, Mothers and Fathers of Vigilance, and Loved Ones of
Vigilance. Each would focus on how that person or persons can
help a child or loved one fight Terrorism's Fear with Courage, its
Intimidation with Conviction and its Complacency with Right Action.
"Wow," George Bush would say, "that's powerful.
There's only one problem?"
Ho Chi Minh would stroke his beard, waiting.
"Well, that empowers people to fight Terrorism.
And leaves the government kind of out of a job, doesn't it?"
Ho Chi Minh would nod. He would tell
the President that unfortunately the plan he is proposing is a "bottom-up"
anti-Terrorism plan. It disavows the potency of a central
government to stop or manage Terrorism.
"One can only fight fire with water," Ho Chi Minh would
say. "America's historic cellular system of communities is the key.
If you build a network of Vigilance Cells within your 8-9,000 communities
of 30-40,000, you'll have Terrorism circled. Your citizens
will drive them away far faster than your CIA, your FBI or all your
military forces. When momma and poppa take a Vow a Vigilance, or
grandmother and grandfather take their Pledge, or the community as a whole
votes to become a Community of Vigilance, and the old crotchety man that
everyone doesn't like signs up to be a Citizen of Vigilance--well, when
all that happens, Terrorism is on the run."
George Bush would shake his head.
"But how can that happen. Who would do all that?"
Ho Chi Minh would remain expressionless as he
spoke. "It is in your Constitution. It always has been.
One representative per 30,000 population. You just changed the
formula to make it easier to pass laws, to garner power, to increase
control over the people. You kept cutting down the representative
government. You lost communication with the grass roots. You
will never fight Terrorism until you regain that communication. Each
community must become a Cell of Vigilance. You fight Terrorism Cells
with Vigilance Cells."
President would take out his pencil and starts to calculate,
then an alert aid would hand him an electronic calculator.
"Let's see, 280 million people, one rep per 30,000....My
God, that's nine thousand, thirty...Hell, that's...almost ten
thousand representatives! We could never get any agreement
in Congress with that many people arguing for their pork barrel!"
Ho Chi Minh would smile, faintly of course, a
sliver of a smile, which could easily be mistaken for a slight muscle
twitch at the corner of his mouth. "That's the point," he would say softly
but sternly. "Only when you have a worthy program for the
people--all the people-- would the majority agree. That would
reduce government's growth and let the people's Voices be heard.
That wouldn't be good," he would pause, "to give the power back to the
"You're still a commie pinko,
aren't you, Mr. Ho Chi Minh?" President Bush
would take a step back, his hand automatically sliding to his
waist, forgetting he wasn't bearing his six-gun and holster
in the Oval Office..
"I am. But that's neither good nor bad now
is it? The truth knows no politics. If you want to eliminate
Terrorism, stop creating new Cabinet posts and pouring billions of dollars
down rat holes. Elect, appoint or randomly assign 9,333 people to be
Presidential Envoys Of Vigilance. Give them a fancy medal to
hang on a red-white-and-blue ribbon with your Presidential Seal embossed
on it so they have some authority. Pay them a hundred-thousand
U.S. dollars a year to sign up at least fifty-one percent of the
ten-thousand households in each Vigilant Village of thirty-thousand or
more. Make them achieve this goal in three years and big bonuses if
they exceed their annual goals of seventeen percent sign up per year."
Ho Chi Minh would pause, twist his scraggly
whiskers as though he had forgotten something important, then continue.
"All the Ambassadors of Vigilance need is a gift of gab--which you
American politicians are born with--and copies of the Vigilance Voice's
Pledge of Vigilance. The rest the community can support--the
halls, the rallies--it should be fun for the people. It would be
like barnstorming the country, looking for votes. Your Ambassadors
of Vigilance would live in community, become part of it. They would grow
to love the people and know them as a brother or sister. They would
always wear your Presidential Seal.
Why, you'd become the most popular president in history, Mr. Bush.
Every American mother and father and grandfather and brother and sister
and cousin and nephew and niece, and even the crotchety old Democrat
nobody likes would give you a slap on the back. And," he would
pause, "vote for you. That's what you want isn't it?
Stop Terrorism and get reelected?"
President Bush would grunt and punch at the
calculator again..."A hundred grand a year times...well, round it
off...times ten thousand Ambassadors.....Hell, man, that's a billion
dollars a year. Then there's benefits and overhead. That's
another billion.. Two billion greenbacks a year! That's a lot
of dong, Minh.. Who would approve that kind of expenditure?"
Ho Chi Min would not have
blinked. "The people would. The people would
know the value of having your representative living among them,
listening to them, bringing them tools and systems of Vigilance
that made their lives, their children's lives better.
You have been insulated from the people too long to respect
their wisdom. You just shuffled a hundred and sixty-nine
employees and thirty-seven billion U.S. dollars in your reorganization
plan to bring Homeland Security to power. Take five percent
of that and ten-thousand employees to fund your Ambassadors
of Vigilance. They'll do more for you in a year than your
Security Cabinet Post will in a decade. It'll take that
long for them just to change phone numbers."
(left-Bush & Tom Ridge, Homeland Security
"Do you want to be reelected, Mr. Bush?"
The President would now stand straight,
smile. He would look at his plan and see it was boxes stacked upon
boxes. He would think of LBJ.
"Okay...Okay...just promise me one
"Don't ever tell anybody this was your