Friday, February 6, 2009

Perception As Reality

A recent discussion regarding G. W. Bush prompted me to recall an experience I had in Iraq.

Occasionally we would receive an intelligence report claiming that we were at heightened risk for attack in our Firm Base. The counter-actions that we would take included increasing patrol frequency, manning posts with an extra Marine, and sending out a mounted patrol or two in an "urgent" manner with the understanding that there are few things that disconcert an enemy like the perception that you know something that he doesn't.

The effects of our vigilance were that outside of the occasional mortar attack (a notoriously difficult to prevent action due to its indirect fire nature), we were never openly attacked.

This led to the perception that our intelligence was anything but.

Complaints of the extra workload grew more insistent as time wore on and no direct attack was forthcoming. It was not a widely held belief that the attacks never came because of our heightened state of alert. Complacency grew and eventually we left Iraq safe and sound and with a generally diminished view of our local intelligence community.

Fortunately, in some cases, hindsight cures this misconception of facts.

The idea that "nothing happened" was in fact an effect of the constant calls to bolster our internal security eventually took hold with the more junior among us, and a collective cry of, "Ohhh, I get it now," was heard throughout the unit.

Soon we may see the same concept dawn on those people that have used the relative safety of the last seven years as a point to argue the "unnecessary" nature of the War on Terror.

Unfortunately, in this case, hindsight will be a painful experience.

The following is not at all what I want to see happen. Ever. I would rather be proven wrong.

One major attack (9/11 or similar) will confirm or at least strongly hint that the dismantling of the Bush administration's anti-terror policies was a detrimental development. The politically (and generally) immoral will attempt to fix blame inside the country, while the wiser heads will be inquiring as to the appropriate reaction and prevention measures.

Two major attacks will make firm the notion that permanent preventative policy and perhaps even pre-emptive actions are necessary.

I am perceiving something else that may in fact be just my imagination. It has been said on many conservative websites and blogs that Bush will be vindicated by history. I agree, but I don't think it will take quite as much history as we originally thought.

I will close with a principle that I would like to unveil (tagged with my real name no less...)

"The perceived necessity of your labors is indirectly proportionate to your effectiveness and efficiency." ~ Jamieson's Law of Applied Work Ethics*

In short, the better you are at your job, the more expendable you seem...

*If anyone knows of a similar Law, C/W