Book 2 - Text Updates 053

Book 2 - Text Updates 053

"What would Charlie do?"

Monica's face scrunched up. "Rachel, you remember when we said weren't going to talk about him any more? Didn't you agree to that?"

"Well, it's worth thinking about," said Rachel. "Right? I mean, he's the ehn- He's the opposing force now."

Phoebe, who was usually quiet when Rachel and Monica squabbled, said softly, "It's okay. I can't say 'enemy,' either."

By order of the Chief Warlord, the Decrypted Archons were scattered around Spacerock's airspace in small stacks, as far apart as possible. The three of them now huddled together over a rampart populated by several stacks of Jetstone archers, giving upskirts on the outskirts to spoil the enemy's aim. If volleys started, their only orders were to stay alive as long as possible. That meant Foolamancy, Shockmancy, or anything else, and pantyshots were about the only shots they could fire right now.

"Yeah, because he's not the enemy," Monica said irritably. "Mistress has an Arkentool, Charlie has an Arkentool, Lord Stanley has an Arkentool, and there's one other. And they'll all come together some turn. So we're all on the same side. That's the way the Titans see it. You want to see it another way? That's you being crazy." She folded her arms.

"Charlie sees it another way," said Rachel.

"Okay, well he's wrong."

Rachel and Phoebe stared at Monica for a very long moment.

Before the Battle for Gobwin Knob, the infallibility of Charlie's wisdom had been the rock upon which all their truths about the world were built. Each of them might be sent off to fight in some battle or spy on some situation they barely understood, but the fact that Charlie knew everything made it okay.

Knowing better than Charlie was a new and uncomfortable feeling.

Rachel cleared her throat. "I know he's wrong. But while he's wrong...he's the opponent. He put us in this situation." She looked down, indicating the approximately five dozen archers directly below their shoes.

"You don't know that," said Phoebe, her voice a distant but defiant whisper.

Rachel shot a look at Phoebe. "Oh please," she snapped. "You're in even more denial than her. The Arkendish's feel was all over that Turnamancy spell."

"I guess." Phoebe looked away, at the enemy tower. It was quivering slightly with the blast of breath from an unseen purple dwagon. Warlord Ossomer hovered near the veranda. Was he parleying with the enemy King again? It looked that way. "It's just like, so different now."

Monica put her hand on Phoebe's arm. "I know, honey."

"Mistress admits she's not great with battle tactics. But there's nobody better than Charlie," said Rachel. "We should be trying to think of what he'd do in our situation. Or what he might do next."

"Mistress says Lord Hamster's better," said Monica, but the doubt in her voice was clear. Rachel just looked at her. "What? He did the dwagon-harvesting thing, that was good." Rachel continued to stare, until Monica looked away, saying, "Okay what could he do? It's not even Charlescomm's turn..."

"It's the Coalition's turn," said Rachel. "And he wants them to win. Their King is going down with that tower, and they have no heir. So the side will just end. He could loan them the money to promote an heir right now."

Phoebe looked at Monica, who frowned. "Charlie doesn't make bad bets. Even with an heir, we'd still wipe out Jetstone eventually. And Charlie doesn't get paid back? Shhyuh. That's a Rule 17 violation."

"'Don't bet on the lame runner, unless you know you can shoot the healthy one.'," quoted Phoebe. She sounded wistful.

"Yeah," said Monica. "When you know a side's going to fall, you don't give them anything. You take what they have left."

Rachel nodded. "Corollary to 17, 'Betting on the healthy runner and shooting the lame one is the better bet.'"

"Maybe he's not ready for Jetstone to fall, though," said Phoebe. "You know? If they go now, all their cities'll go barbarian. But if they retreat, he can milk them dry."

Monica put her hands on her hips and looked at the tower, thoughtfully. "Yeah. That's possible."

Rachel shook her head. "No. I think he thought that spell would work. I don't think he thought Jetstone was going to fall."

Monica suddenly raised her head. "You think maybe he still can shoot the healthy runner?"

There was worried silence, as they looked at one another. "You guys?" whispered Phoebe, "That's us."

Another distant boom rumbled from the direction of the tower, and Rachel stared angrily at its cracking facade. "Could that thing take any longer to fall?"

"I know, right?"

Comic - Book 2 - Text Updates 053

Recent posts... (See full thread)
Actually, Clinton had a plan to take on Al Qaeda, which, had Gore won, would have been implemented immediately. The Bush team ignored it.

POINT BEING, though, Stanley was in the end in charge and it is his fault he let himself be too influenced by Wanda, unless of course she was using mind control powers rather than super-sexiness. So far as I know, we've only seen Maggie use mind control on Stanley, and it's not far-fetched to suppose that Wanda A) thought she had things under control with super-sexiness, and B) isn't subtle enough at mind control to be safe doing it on her boss.
drachefly wrote:
Actually, Clinton had a plan to take on Al Qaeda, which, had Gore won, would have been implemented immediately. The Bush team ignored it.


Pure fantasy. Clinton actually tried to kill OBL a couple times, but every time complications forced the CIA to balk (collateral damage, in onecases).

The CIA did not diminish its efforts under Bush at all. OBL was still #1 on the FBI wanted list for the first 9 months of 2001, which tells you that nothing changed. Intel on OBL was always scant and risky, so thinking that suddenly that it was scant and risky under Bush is evidence of poor effort is simply favoritism.
http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB147/index.htm

Okay, it wasn't a concrete specific plan - it was a careful investigation into the options, that sat there for 8 months gathering dust. What was holding back the Clinton administration from actually executing those options was the election and fact of an incoming administration. Had Gore been elected, he would have proceeded with those options as they had agreed. Al-Qaeda would have been under far more pressure. Could they have pulled off 9/11 anyway? Totally unknown, quite possibly. Would they have had a harder time? Yes.

POINT IS… well, I've said it before. Whether or not you agree with the aptness of the analogy, Stanley was fundamentally in charge and responsible, and the further one gets from the time he took over, the more so this is.
drachefly wrote:

POINT IS… well, I've said it before. Whether or not you agree with the aptness of the analogy, Stanley was fundamentally in charge and responsible, and the further one gets from the time he took over, the more so this is.


And again, if the responsibility is only his, then why doesn't he get praised for his sucesses? Under Stanley's leadership, GK is now a mighty side spanning multiple cities with the coffers bursting, two attunned arkentools and the supreme warlord.

Because Stanley, above any other erfworld leader, is actually willing to listen to his subordinates and acept daring strategies, whitout need of the enemy being inside his capital tearing the tower down. All the while wise enough to know a deathtrap when he sees it and know when to retreat himself.

Evil overlord Rule 106: If my supreme command center comes under attack, I will immediately flee to safety in my prepared escape pod and direct the defenses from there. I will not wait until the troops break into my inner sanctum to attempt this.

drachefly wrote:
Okay, it wasn't a concrete specific plan - it was a careful investigation into the options, that sat there for 8 months gathering dust. What was holding back the Clinton administration from actually executing those options was the election and fact of an incoming administration. Had Gore been elected, he would have proceeded with those options as they had agreed. Al-Qaeda would have been under far more pressure.


Pressure from what? Without the fear created by 9/11 what was actually possible? Al Qaeda was deep inside Afghanistan so far that Clinton rejected all attempts to snipe him in his camp. There was no extraction of the sniper possible, so it was suicide.

Was an invasion of Afghanistan without 9/11 in the cards? That's what it took to put pressure on them, and they are *still* active in that region 10 years on. I don't know what kind of "pressure" you think was in that report, but it certainly wasn't drones flying over a sovereign nation.

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Could they have pulled off 9/11 anyway? Totally unknown, quite possibly.


No qquestion about it, yes they absolutely could. try to identify the 20 terrorists from the thousands of Muslim immigrants, when they are compartmentalized with extremely limited communication.

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Would they have had a harder time? Yes.


Not in the slightest. What roadblocks could have been put in place? Was "Ban box cutters and screwdrivers from aircraft" in that report? This op was so easy for Al Qaeda to plan and implement it's remarkable in its simplicity.

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POINT IS… well, I've said it before. Whether or not you agree with the aptness of the analogy, Stanley was fundamentally in charge and responsible, and the further one gets from the time he took over, the more so this is.


Oslocamo has it right. If he is responsible for the mistakes, he's also responsible for the successes. So whatever you're pinning on Stanley, you also must give him credit for the uncroaked voclano trap, the recapture of a dozen cities, and maybe the capture of Jetstone. He was, after all, the guy that set the definition of what constituted the Perfect Chief Warlord, and he pretty much got it all... except the handsome part... so anything that Parson does is Stanley's fault, right?
First off, the on-topic matters.

The failures of Stanley were Ruler-based - pursuing an overly aggressive foreign policy. That's his domain, so yes, the failures there are 100% his.

Now, let's look at the successes you list:
Volcano trap. Well, he did accept Wanda's advice by hiring Parson. That mitigates his failure to resist Wanda's advice earlier by making the idea of following Wanda's advice not so bad.

Stuff that happens with the second arkentool in hand: Well, you get credit for playing the hand you're dealt. At this point he had a royal flush, or a lot of trump cards, or a lot of low non-hearts, or whatever kind of hand you're talking about. THAT, if nothing else, mitigates the credit that can be accrued to anyone.

~~~~~

Second, concerning 9/11.

Why is it that we haven't had airplanes flying into buildings every week for ten years? Because people know that terrorists do things like that. The security theatre elements like banning box cutters have done nothing. All it would have taken to prevent the tactic from working would have been a highly public announcement that it was being attempted. That intel, we had. Other simple steps could be taken, like having the FAA be on the lookout for such planes and having a means for them to sound the alarm! Reinforcing cockpit doors wouldn't hurt. These things do NOT require hunting down the terrorists. They just involve pulling our pants up and keeping our eyes open.

Moreover, we around that time acquired a valuable Al-Qaeda leader in custody in an allied country. After 9/11 when interrogating him was finally authorized, he revealed a considerable amount of intelligence (without a trace of torture, note), including the Al-Qaeda affiliation of the attackers. The particular tactic used in that case would not have worked, but others could have.

What specific pressure could be applied? We had contacts with the Northern Alliance - remember them? - and they would have eagerly accepted military aid to fight the Taliban. That would have made extraction impossible for that hit team you describe. Back in the US, simply sending out a memo to flight instructors asking about flight students who were avoiding learning about landing procedures would have pinpointed at least one of the pilots in short order!

Still, sure, perhaps they could have gotten it to work. I allowed that was possible.
[Edit: We're repeating ourselves, so i'm not responding to this subject any further. have the last word if you like.]

drachefly wrote:
First off, the on-topic matters.

The failures of Stanley were Ruler-based - pursuing an overly aggressive foreign policy. That's his domain, so yes, the failures there are 100% his.


Except that's not entirely true. Wanda makes it abundantly clear that she was pressing him to pursue the Arkentool agenda. She knew he was pliable, and so could manipulate him to her plans. Had Wanda not been whispering in his ear, would he have followed the same path? If that answer is, "No," then you can't say it is entirely his fault.

Further, you don't know how those failures occurred. The one turning point that we know of, the death of Manpower, was not attributed to a failure of Stanley, but that the enemy had one more force than it should, and so was able to try a strategy that the local Chief Warlord was not prepared for... a flanking maneuver. Is Manpower's death Stanley's fault? Or his own, for failing to cover a flank?

So let's not jump to conclusions, here. We don't know at what level everything fell apart. There are many candidates for having made bad decisions, or given bad advice. Stnaley is, at some level, responsible, but others made mistakes, too, and that means he is not 100% responsible for everything.

~~~~~

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All it would have taken to prevent the tactic from working would have been a highly public announcement that it was being attempted. That intel, we had.


NO YOU DID NOT. There was ONE report from ONE pilot trainer that ONE person was trying to learn how to fly a plane, but did not care how to land. It was UNCORROBORATED. And it DIED in the LOWEST levels of the FBI, without further investigation! It was one of thousands of reports about thousands of suspected terrorists submitted by thousands of paranoid Americans that see enemies in every schwarma shop, just because their skin is brown.

Before 9/11, there was only one SINGLE hostage situation where a few people suspected that a plane might have been intended to be used as a missile, but the actual discussions were about exploding it over a city. Air France 8969. The terrorists wanted fuel to fly from Marseilles to land in Duvalle, but afterwards, the passengers said the terrorists had discussed blowing the plane up over Paris instead of landing. I saw one speculate that since they ddn' actually have a bomb, that they might have flown it into the Eiffel Tower, but that was a post-9/11 interview.

There was one single report generated by the FBI terrorism division during the Clinton years that suggested someone might fly a plane into a building, and suggested the WTC's because of the '95 bombing, but again, that did not reach the Executive and was kept entirely in that division of the FBI. It was a product for the Clinton staff, not the Bush staff.

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Moreover, we around that time acquired a valuable Al-Qaeda leader in custody in an allied country. After 9/11 when interrogating him was finally authorized, he revealed a considerable amount of intelligence (without a trace of torture, note), including the Al-Qaeda affiliation of the attackers. The particular tactic used in that case would not have worked, but others could have.


Khalid Sheikh Mohammed confessed after Waterboarding, which is considered torture and now banned by the USA.

Ramzi bin al-Shibh has never confessed.

The other possible plotter was Ramzi Yousef, who was conspiring to bomb a number of planes simultaneously in the mid-90's and participated in the first WTC bombing. He may have been the man to give Khalid the idea for 9/11, since they knew each other and Yousef was a much more grandiose plotter. But while he may have originated the idea, he took no part in the plans and was entirely unaware of the plot itself, since he was captured in '95.

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What specific pressure could be applied? We had contacts with the Northern Alliance - remember them? - and they would have eagerly accepted military aid to fight the Taliban.


The "northern Alliance" is a loose collections of Warlords known more for ties to heroin than fighting for freedom. They were in direct conflict with the Taliban, who were trying to be the only military force and who hated heroin, but had this gotten out without 9/11 justification for working with these wretched men, Bush would have been vilified for working with organized criminals against a religiously profiled enemy that had never done anything to the US, and would have been prevented from that course by the War on Drugs. (The Northern Alliance was fighting to continue its drug trade, not for freedom.) The Taliban was not directly responsible for the actions of al-Qaeda, and the Warlords could not have gotten past the Taliban to get to al-Qaeda. In fact, for the Warlords, al-Qaeda meant nothing: it was only the Taliban they wanted rid of, and only in their own Northern region. The Northern Alliance refused to help free southern Afghanistan after 9/11 (which is how Karzai wound up in chrage), so the presumption that the NA would have fought al-Qaeda is entirely without foundation, even if they could get there past the Taliban forces..

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Back in the US, simply sending out a memo to flight instructors asking about flight students who were avoiding learning about landing procedures would have pinpointed at least one of the pilots in short order!


Which requires foreknowledge that the US government did not have. As I have repeatedly stated, US Airline policy was based solely on the Hijackings that took planes to Cuba, not on attacks that had never happened. Policy was to give in to the hostage taking, and keep yourself alive through non-aggression and compliance. It was this policy of compliance that the terrorists used in order to execute their plot.

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Still, sure, perhaps they could have gotten it to work. I allowed that was possible.


You have no evidence that anyone knew a hijacking, must less a crash into the WTC, was in the offing. Previous terrorist events of the type had always been hostage takings, or been intended to be sensationalistic bombings over a city, not the destruction of a building.
If the administration hadn't been burying its head in the sand, those individual reports could very easily have been dug up. That they weren't doesn't counterargue my point in the least; it supports it!
The only bit of reading I've done from that era is from this guy's book:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_A._Clarke

He (a republican who has lived and breathed national security for most of his life) definitely blames Bush, Rumsfeld, and, well, everyone but Powell for a great deal of incompetence and hubris... and praises Clinton and Gore (though he mostly praises them for following his advice). Some might argue that he is just shifting the blame from himself... but I believe him.

That said, I can understand Bush ignoring of some of the counterterrorism warnings to a degree. Recall that there was a public perception that Clinton was using his counter-terrorism efforts (such as bombing Iraq) as a distraction from domestic anger over his indiscretions. I could imagine coming into that institution where all of the apparatuses of government still smell like the guy before you and being tempted to think "lets ignore these clowns and get a fresh start." Gore took an especially vehement role in advocating going after Bin Laden... which probably predisposed Bush to further ignore the threat seeing as how Bush had just emerged from a full year of trying to sell the case that Gore was an anti-business pro-environment nut-job. Give enough speeches on an idea and you'll start to believe it.

Of course, he took the mandate he got from 9/11 and used it to attack just about everything I love about my country, so my sympathy for him ends there.
Anybody know when the next comic will be up? It's been almost two weeks. :(