In the mid to late fifties, a fighter pilot could earn himself a quick forty bucks and perhaps a nice steak dinner in Vegas-not to mention everlasting renown, which is to fighter pilots what oxygen is to us lesser beings-by meeting over the Green Spot at thirty thousand feet and taking position just 500 feet behind an arrogant and unpleasant man with precisely zero air-to-air victories to his credit. From that perfect kill position, you would yell “Fight’s on!” and if that sitting duck in front of you was not on your tail with you in his gunsight in forty seconds flat then you would win the money, the dinner and best of all, the fame.
Tank commanders may be charging cavalrymen at heart; sub skippers may be deer hunters using patience and stealth. But fighter pilots are Musketeers. They are swordsmen whose survival depends on remaining on the offensive… that is to say, they are men who survive because they can (and have) initiated 16-to-1 fights because they possess the confidence-actually, the untrammeled ego – to know they will win.
To be challenged in such a manner is an irresistible red flag to men like this, and certainly no less of one because the challenger was a rude, loud, irreverent braggart who had never been victorious in actual air-to-air combat. And yet that forty dollars went uncollected, uncollected for many years against scores of the best fighter pilots in the world.
That is more than luck. That is more than skill. That is more than tactics. That level of supremacy is the result of the ability to see things in an entirely new way. It is the difference between escaping from a maze you are embedded in, versus finding the way out from one that you look down upon from above.
Read the whole thing.
Including part two on “the surge of hope,” and Whittle’s excellent appreciation not only of General Petraeus and his troops, but also of Yon and Totten. (I wish he’d append the New York Times’ John Burns as well.) Bill is on to a big truth here, and given the slowness of election days, spend some time with this essay. One more excerpt, from part 2:
When Osama bin Laden launched the terror attacks of September 11th, 2001, he explained in a video to his own followers that it was because America was a paper tiger too afraid to take casualties, and that defeating The Great Satan would be even easier than defeating the Soviets. “When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature they will like the strong horse,” he said.
I wonder if our illegal, immoral, unilateral cowboy adventures in Afghanistan and Iraq may have tempered this view somewhat. This Great Saladin is now reduced to living in a cave, calling for the end of Global Warming and begging for recruits to fight in Iraq. In doing so he is admitting that it is he, not us, who is the weak horse to a people with ears very, very finely tuned to such frequencies.
Look at this picture of the aftermath of an IED explosion. Who do you think this Iraqi child considers the ‘strong horse?’ Can you fake this kind of reaction, this instantaneous bolt to safety in the middle of fire and death?