The VigilanceVoice

Friday-- June 7, 2002—Ground Zero Plus 268

Ho Chi Minh's Advice To President Bush On Ambassadors Of Vigilance
Cliff McKenzie
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 physically. 
      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 again.
      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 the 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.   (Tom 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 White House.
      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 50's.
      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 Vietnam.  
      Who else has experience?  Well, 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 President Bush 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 President's plans. 
      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 tax base.
      He would call them the "perfect anti-terrorism cell structure."
      "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 head--"Anti-Terrorism Cells?"
       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 state.
       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."
     The 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 people."
      "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 Homeland 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 Director)   "But....but....but....."
       "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 thing..."
       "What's that?"
       "Don't ever tell anybody this was your idea."