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How the Capitol Assault Went Awry

Tom Hall: It’s one thing to announce a battle, but quite another to plan one, have specific tactical and strategic goals, and allowances for contingencies that arise during battle.
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Capitol Assault

Can anyone be surprised at how the Republican insurgency fell apart on January 6?

As investigations into the January 6 assault on Congress begin, we are learning more about how they were planned. It turns out that actual planning and logistical organizing started at least as soon as it was clear that “the Donald” had lost the election. As the Donald lost election challenge after election challenge, raking in hundreds of millions of dollars along the way, planners focused ever more narrowly on the Congressional vote certification ceremony as a final opportunity to attack democracy. 

It now seems clear that vast sums were spent to bus in Donald base “warriors” and to provide them with housing in local hotels and motels, and transportation to the capitol area. As the insurgency date approached, RED state congressmen provided guided tours to provide battleground reconnaissance, showing groups where to attack, how to gain access, where to get the best PR shots. 

Knowing that Washington D.C. has strict gun laws, the base “warriors” were trained to tie their flags to metal pipes, rather than wooden flagpoles, as the metal pipes could be more useful weapons. Then on the day of the vote certification, the Donald and a slew of his lieutenants whipped the crowd into a frenzy of violence, calling on them to “fight like hell,” “be wild,” “Let’s have trial by combat”, and “not lose your country.” 

So it can no longer be disputed that the insurgency was planned, funded, facilitated with transportation, housing and reconnaissance, and then encouraged by the Donald and his team. But it failed. Why? 

It’s one thing to announce a battle, but quite another to plan one, have specific tactical and strategic goals, and allowances for contingencies that arise during battle.

For the same reason the election challenges all failed. Bad planning. It’s one thing to claim election fraud, but something completely different to prove it with evidence in a courtroom. Similarly, it’s one thing to announce a battle, but quite another to plan one, have specific tactical and strategic goals, and allowances for contingencies that arise during battle. Every successful army has grunt soldiers to do the fighting and dying. But those soldiers need direction from general officers who have articulated goals and designed steps to achieve those goals. 

All the Donald’s army had was hero worship and experience gathering people at rallies to express their adoration of the glorious leader. Even with mid-level flunkies like Mo Brooks providing the soldiers with reconnaissance and intel, there was no organized plan, no logistical support and no organization to put the reconnaissance and intel to use. 

Many in the Donald’s army had military experience. But so far, not one has been shown to have had any battle planning experience, or battle success. The highest ranking officer arrested so far is a retired light colonel whose experience amounted to being a combat pilot, dropping bombs on targets that were identified to him by his superiors. His role was analogous to a hired-gun attorney who held press conferences and filed papers in court acording to the instructions she received - without designing actual legal theories or assembling admissible evidence. 

The lessons of history are hard to take. The best planning, done meticulously, doesn’t win all wars. The U.S., perhaps more than any other nation, has experienced, time after time, that expansive planning, with the best weapons and most tons of bombs and napalm and bribes paid to locals, cannot overcome peasant armies equipped with primitive rifles, improvised explosives and plans for their own self-rule. From Korea and Vietnam, and the Middle East, and across the banana republics of Central and South America, insurgents with fewer resources than the Donald’s army have cast off U.S. colonial domination. 

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In the late 18th century, the American colonies threw off rule by royalty that saw its own interests as more important that those of the colonists. But that effort was foundering until Prussian military officers provided the revolutionary army with organization, discipline and planning. And even then, that revolution would not have succeeded without help from the French king, more interested in his squabbles with the English king than with the plight of his own people. 

The French king’s disregard for his own people, and contempt for planning how to handle any rebellion, led to his own downfall a few years later. He was followed by the fall of the Russian Czar and the Chinese Emperor, both of whom who had also held their own peoples in contempt, useful only to be called on for praise and adulation of their rulers. 

After the failure of the January 6 attack on Congress, one of the gun nut groups trying to continue to start a civil war, the Boogaloo Boiz, posted a message on one of their sites, saying: “Theres a war coming, and cowering in your home [while] real patriots march with rifles ... will make you a traitor,” But they have no war plan, no war goals. Just, maybe attack a few statehouses, steal what they can, maybe kill a few politicians, smear feces on the walls, and then go home? 

People who might want a revolution, but who stay home will be labeled “traitors.” Then what? Turn on their own and start killing those “traitors,” rather than engaging with the police or worse, the U.S. military? 

But doesn’t this also sound a lot like some self-proclaiming “leftists”? No matter what he proposes, no matter whom he appoints, Joe Biden will always be “the enemy.” Those who are “never Biden” activists sound a lot like those who are “only Donald” worshippers. They want “revolution” in the same way that Donald’s base wants it - they know that whatever exists now is intolerable, so if they tear it down, whatever is left must be better.

And damn the victims of the struggle, they were just collateral damage, necessary and of no interest once they’re gone. 

So they don’t need any planning, or any defined goals for what is to be achieved, beyond the alway popular platitude of “freedom.” 

We can see alternative approaches in history. Both Vietnam and Cuba waged insurgent wars again colonial rule. In each case, the insurgents put more stress on throwing off the oppressors than they did on ideologically purity. Both the Vietnamese and Cuban revolutions considered U.S. style constitutional government, until the U.S. took the side of the colonial rulers. And on the battlefields, both the Vietnamese and Cuban revolutionaries focused on winning battles, and defining their own battle terms, rather than just announcing an intention to win a revolutionary war. Winning enough small battles won their wars. 

But such alternatives require planning and persistence. They involve compromises and cooperation. And they require convincing the population that you have their interests at heart, not merely their acquiescence in you imposing you own rule over them, which is somehow “better” than the rule of the colonial or oligarchical power. This is a very hard lift for “progressives,” who imagine that they know all the answers and get very impatient with the “stupid” proletariat for not being “enlightened enough.” 

But it is what the U.S. needs right now. We need REAL progressives to find ways to improve life for people, and ways to communicate the benefits of more democratic policies for all people.

Tom Hall

Real progressives need to embrace democracy, and the right of all the people, including the least informed, to be involved. Rather than just dreaming about imaginary future perfection, progressives need to work on individual measures to improve specific parts of life for all Americans. 

Tom Hall