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By Geoff Metcalf

September 15, 2002

For years I have been talking and writing about the distinctions of "form over substance" and "perception versus reality". Mainstream media malfeasance has been a common theme of my columns, radio talk programs and commentary.

Notwithstanding the monumental silence, of what Drudge would call ABC, CBS, NBC, FoxNews, CNN, NYT, Wash Post et al, the next Iraq war has already started.

MSNBC reports, the "President says United States will act with or without world support." Hey, "Been there....done that...already have the T-Shirt. "

While America's atrophied fourth estate has been fixated on the Potomac Two step, London's Telegraph last week reported. "About 100 American and British aircraft took part in an attack on Iraq's major western air defense the biggest single operation over the country for four years."

Despite the epic myopia of mainstream media, THAT raid was a classic demonstration (or should be) to even the most neophyte military observer of "preparing the battlefield".

The so-called "horse trading" going on is classic form over substance. "In order to gain international support for military action, the Bush administration will have to engage in intensive horse-trading. Powell and British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw made clear that discussions on a new Security Council resolution were in a very early stage and have not yet focused on specific wording or addressed the key issue of possible military action against Iraq." BULLFEATHERS!!!!

"Possible military action"? Military action against Iraq is inevitable. It is no longer a question of "if" but merely "when".

The London Telegraph (regarding last week's raid) wrote, "The raid appeared to be a prelude to the type of Special Forces operations that would have to begin weeks before a possible American-led war."

"Preparing the battlefield" is a broad brush. It includes anything and everything to reduce the enemy's capacity to fight. That means destroying or disrupting:

Air defense capacity
Command and control (communications)
Supply and logistics (ammunition, food, water, gasoline)

Notwithstanding the talk about talking about talk...and the Washington Post stroke about "....but will turn to diplomacy first." Diplomacy my Airborne Butt! We are bombing the snot out of them NOW!

240 miles west of Baghdad, near Jordan, 12 aircraft dropped precision-guided bombs the H3 airfield. Flying out of Kuwait nine American F15s and three RAF Tornado GR4s hit the targets.

At least seven types of aircraft took part.

Fighter cover was provided by US F-16 Fighting Falcons
RAF Tornado F3s from Saudi Arabia.
RAF VC10 tanker aircraft flying from Bahrain were among the support aircraft.
These also included EA6b Prowlers, which send out signals to confuse enemy radar, and
E3a Awacs aircraft that co-ordinate operations and carry out reconnaissance of any response.
RAF Tornados also took part in the reconnaissance.
American central command refused to go into detail about the number of aircraft involved in the raid.

Now THAT is an effective method of "diplomacy"... the preferred counterpoint to any and all Neville Chamberlainish appeasements.

The official spin was, "Coalition strikes in the no-fly zones are executed as a self-defense measure in response to Iraqi hostile threats and acts against coalition forces and their aircraft."

The Pentagon called the raid a "response to recent Iraqi hostile acts against coalition aircraft monitoring the southern no-fly zone".

Since Iraq has reportedly made 130 attempts to shoot down coalition aircraft this year and as the president noted, "SADDAM HUSSEIN has defied the United Nations 16 times. Not once, not twice, 16 times, he has defied the United Nations. Enough is enough,"....what the hell took us so long?

The attack on what was described, as an "air defense command and control facility" was the first time that a target in western Iraq had been attacked during the patrols of the southern no-fly zone. Previous air defense target strikes had been in the south.

The Telegraph reported, "In a further sign that America was preparing for war, a Pentagon official confirmed that heavy armor, ammunition and other equipment had been moved to Kuwait from huge stores in Qatar." "Preparing"??????

The War has already started! We just haven't gotten the memo yet.

In Louisville, Kentucky, the President said that, besides having talks with Mr. Blair, he would be meeting the leaders of France, Russia, China and Canada. He told them that "history has called us into action" to oust Saddam Hussein, the president of Iraq. Now he has tried to shame the United Nothing into support. He says the standoff is as much a test of the United Nations as of Saddam. "The United Nations deserves another chance to prove its relevance. This is a chance for the United Nations to show some backbone," Bush said, but he added: "Make no mistake about it, if we have to deal with the problem, we'll deal with it." And we ARE.

Hey, RIGHT NOW, the US and Britain are in the process of 'preparing the battlefield' for the inevitability of intensified combat in Iraq.

The "perception" and spin may be that we are "talking" and attempting to win consensus from world leaders and the American people. However, the "reality" is we are (right now) engaged in a for real shooting war. The war has already started.

2002 Geoff Metcalf - All Rights Reserved

Geoff is a veteran media performer. He has had an eclectic professional background covering a wide spectrum of radio, television, magazine, and newspapers.  A former Green Beret and retired Army officer he is in great demand as a speaker. Metcalf has hosted his radio talk show on the ABC/Disney owned and operated KSFO and in worldwide syndication.