What is a “Decapitation Strike?”
“A decapitation strike is a military strategy aimed at removing the leadership or command and control of a hostile government or group. The strategy of shattering or defeating an enemy by eliminating its military and political leadership has long been utilized in warfare.”
There is currently much speculation that the U.S. may be considering such against North Korea.
In the meantime, an obscure American citizen nearly accomplished such a strike against our constitutional polity.
In the immediate aftermath of the Congressional baseball shootings, I mailed a few friends to the effect that this was a failed “semi-decapitation strike.”
I was wrong. No “semi” about it.
As the Daily Caller first reported on May 16:
EXCLUSIVE: Assassination List Found On James Hodgkinson’s Body
The list of names included Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks, South Carolina Rep. Jeff Duncan and Arizona Rep. Trent Franks, TheDC has confirmed. Fox News reported after this story that Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, Tennessee Rep. Scott DesJarlais and Virginia Rep. Morgan Griffith are also on the list. All six congressmen are members of the House Freedom Caucus, which contains the lower chamber’s most conservative members.
This is not to say that the list was limited to these names, but one can safely wager that the remainder are also Republicans, and the shooter knew that anyone present at the practice field would be a suitable target because, as we are told, and for which there is ample evidence, Hodgkinson “hated Republicans.”
Well, I know plenty of people who hate Republicans – and, at times, I’m not too fond of them myself – but none of them would even contemplate, and probably not even applaud,* such an attack.
So, what we have here is a deranged loser, one with a history of anti-social acts, committing a “senseless act of violence,” just as we are usually informed is the case after the latest jihadi attack.
And this is always wrong. The last two attacks in the U.K. made perfect sense in terms of Islamic doctrine, hitting centers of sins and vice, and they also had a high value as economic targets in a climate of asymmetrical warfare.
Those guys knew what they were doing.
So did Hodgkinson.
First, he found a low security, high value target.
Individual members of Congress, and the body itself have been target before, but never with such precision, and potential systemic disruption.
So far, I have not been able to find an accounting for the exact number of Republican congressmen present at Alexandria, only references to a “large number” of GOP legislators and staffers.
Next, while the damage had he succeeded in largely taking out the men on that field might be ultimately incalculable, some clear results are easily discernible.
The process for filling vacant seats is covered thoroughly here.
The key point:
“When vacancies happen in the Representation from any State, the Executive Authority thereof shall issue Writs of Election to fill such Vacancies.” — Article I, Section 2, Clause 4 of the U.S. Constitution
Such elections follow the normal process, with primaries, and take from three to six months before seating a successor. In the meantime, staff may carry on routine constituent services, but the voters in affected districts have no legislative representation, and the offices of the empty seats may take no public policy positions.
The loss of all the representatives at the ball park, however large the number, most certainly was no larger than the 2016 Republican majority of 247 seats. However, it most certainly would have changed the dynamics of intra-party GOP politicking.
And from this, I move on to speculation, but speculation I maintain is informed, and grounded in the current political climate, and the discourse and deeds off so many of the actors in it.
The Left has taken to painting President Trump as a threat to constitutional order. This is a bit rich coming after eight years of a Democrat administration warning that strict constitutionalists are potential terrorists , but Orwellian shifts of opinion among the Western Left have been standard from at least the days of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.
Any legislation passed during the replacement election process would be deemed illegitimate by concerned Democrats looking out for their unrepresented Republican brothers and sisters, and there would be no of shortage of GOP ‘moderates” and right/centrist pundits(Fox News) chiming in with their support for constitutional, representative democracy.
Nor would there be any guarantee that the replacement legislators would mirror the conservatism of the departed. I’ll warrant right here that the GOP would do its best to make sure they didn’t. Thus, we would have an end to any legislative advance in the President’s agenda this term, or the next, and the seating of more Republican members likely to run for the tall grass in the event of a push for impeachment.
So, what’s next?
Decapitation may not be only a single strike at the top, but also ongoing and systemic, or a combination of both.
Where have we seen this before?
The Nazis, for once curate, used the massacre in anti-Soviet propaganda, but only in 1985 did the USSr admit to the crime.
The NKVD after occupying eastern Poland in 1938 rounded up, murdered, and sometimes deported, thousands of military officers, civil servants, cleric, writers, academicians, prominent businessmen, artists ,and public intellectuals, most notably at the Katyn Forest, where an estimated 22,000 Polish military were shot, in order to prevent the rise of resistance from any possible quarter.
The Phoenix program during the Viet Nam war was systemic decapitation aimed at, and successfully carrying out the destruction of the Viet Cong organizational structure. Pinochet’s coup and killing of Chilean President Allende was a classic decapitation at the top, but was followed by years of targeted elimination of opponents, both real and potential, mirrored in the “dirty wars” elsewhere in Latin America for the next decade or so.
The US, in Iraq, went after the head of state and his family, but followed up with systemic decapitation, in eliminating the Baath Party from the polity. In this case, most ended up unemployed, rather than dead, and found other employment with al Qaeda and Isis.
It is unlikely, in the U.S. that such a richly significant and rewarding target as the Alexandria ball field will present itself again.
Nevertheless, I expect decapitation tactics to continue. These need not be violent, although I expect we will see isolated attacks. Intimidation and slander, already used by the Left against Republican lawmakers and administration officials will continue.
The most threatening – and real -decapitation attack, and one with a far greater chance of success than that of Hodgkinson, is the investigation(s) into the President, ever expanding and widening, despite no evidence of any underlying crime.
Supported by the administrative state, the opinion manipulating media, academia, one political party, and a good share of another, it may well succeed where a battalion of assassins, or even a traditional military coup headed by a phalanx of tanks rumbling down Pennsylvania Avenue, never could.
*While nobody in my circle celebrated the Alexandria attack, plenty across social media did.
(A thought: some, both on the Left and Right posit that the decapitation has long since occurred and that it is the intelligence agencies and the administrative stat that run the show, with any president being a figurehead. This was the premise of the 2006 series “Jericho.” I’d be interested in thoughts on this from any readers.)