America Under Siege
By Joseph Farah
© 1999 Western Journalism Center
Joseph Farah is editor of and Executive
Director of the Western Journalism Center,
an independent group of investigative reporters.
I will be 45 later this year, and not in my lifetime have I witnessed as many urban and rural military exercises taking place within the borders of the United States as I have seen in recent months. The National Guard, the Army, the Special Forces, even the Navy are stepping up their off-base training practices.
Many excuses are being issued from the Pentagon and from the various military forces for these maneuvers. None of them make sense. There's something about the context in which these exercises are occurring that puts the lie to all the official statements.
Take the Marine Corps' vaunted Urban Warrior program, for instance. Officially, we are told that this program is intended to develop technologies and strategies that allow the military to win future foreign wars in urban settings while minimizing collateral damage. The public relations people tell us that Marines must learn how to fight in city streets surrounded by skyscrapers with impaired views from surveillance satellites. They tell us the exercises will help establish the U.S. military's credibility in situations requiring humanitarian relief. And they say that we must prepare for subduing threats from domestic terrorists armed with weapons of mass destruction.
But all this doesn't add up. It doesn't compute. It doesn't pass the smell test.
Where exactly are these foreign target cities crowded with skyscrapers? The situation sounds like few Third World countries you might imagine U.S. forces being called to rescue. The imagery doesn't remind one of Kosovo, the latest of President Clinton's battleground adventures. Iraq, a country bombed by the U.S. military on nearly a daily basis, is not known for its urban canyons.
So which cities is the U.S. actually studying for future assaults? According to the photographs in Urban Warrior's strategic documents, the target cities look astonishingly familiar -- New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Miami and San Diego.
A study of those documents also reveals that matters of humanitarian relief are actually best left to civilian authorities.
And, as far as reducing collateral damage goes, the Marines' own documents suggest the fighting in Third World urban jungles is a highly risky proposition with little opportunity to contain destruction: "The squalor and highly inflammable nature of building materials within many non-Western urban areas -- coupled with the wide use of propane or natural gas for heating and services -- creates a risk of catastrophic fire."
So, what's really up? Why are we seeing these maneuvers spreading from Kingsville, Texas, to western Pennsylvania to the San Francisco Bay Area?
Perhaps a hint came in a Jan. 28 story in The New York Times, in which President Clinton was reported to be considering the appointment of a military leader for the continental United States -- a domestic commander-in-chief -- to deal with the growing threat of major terrorist strikes.
Is there a terrorist threat? Yes, of course. And it is only heightened by President Clinton's increasing adventurism abroad in conflicts that often involve no significant U.S. interests, enflame anti-American passions, and where victory remains an undefined objective.
I submit to you that American freedom is more gravely threatened by the acceptance of a growing military presence in our streets than by foreign terrorists.
But I suggest even the terrorism scenario is a manufactured rationalization for these exercises. Perhaps the most honest excuse was provided in the most recent Marine exercises near Washington, D.C.
There, the Washington Post reported last week, a contingent from Quantico practiced handling a riot by government workers upset because Y2K computer problems prevented them from getting their paychecks.
Could all these maneuvers actually have more to do with the unknown dynamics of a Y2K crisis than a terrorist threat to America's infrastructure? Many of the recent exercises, in cities and small towns around the country, involve the element of social unrest, civil strife, and population containment. In fact, read carefully the mission statement of the Marine Corps' Urban Warrior program and you will see such objectives clearly stated in the training goals.
We're rapidly approaching the year zero, and it's no secret that the government's computers are not ready, power plants are not compliant, the banking system is a question mark and that the real threat to America's infrastructure comes not from terrorists but from the ticking clock.
Isn't it time for a little honesty, a little candor, a little warning from our government?
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