The Man Who Never Was

#Culture

Mon, Sep 23rd, 2002 04:00 by Leo N. ARTICLE

In the spring of 1943, with the African Campaign coming to a successful conclusion, the Allies began to consider the invasion of Hitler's "Fortress Europe." The most obvious target to start the invasion was Sicily, which was not only in a strategic location that would act as a springboard for the rest of Europe, but it would've allowed for the elimination of the Luftwaffe, a danger to allied shipping in the Mediterranean Sea.

There were problems: to start, the Germans were well aware of the importance of Sicily to the Allies as the logical place to start an invasion. Add to that the mountainous landscape of the island, a joy to defend but impossible to attack. And lastly, the invasion (Operation Husky) would require such a build-up of armaments that it would be next to impossible to go undetected by the Germans.

For Operation Husky to succeed and not turn into a blood bath for the Allies, the German High Command had to be fooled.

On April 30, a fisherman off of the coast of Spain picked up the body of a British Royal Marines courier, Major William Martin. Attached to his wrist was a briefcase, which contained personal correspondence and documents related to the impending Allied invasion of Sardinia. Spain immediately notified the Abwehr (German intelligence).

After this discovery, Hitler promptly moved two Panzer divisions and an additional Waffen SS brigade to Sardinia to prepare for this Allied invasion.

Major William Martin of the British Royal Marines had been dead long before he had even hit the water, much less served in the armed forces. Major Martin was a decoy devised by Sir Archibald Cholmondley (with the appropriate name Operation Mincemeat) and put in action by Lieutenant Commander Ewen Montagu of Naval Intelligence.

Major Martin had to appear as though he had drowned, probably after his plane crashed off the coast of Spain. This necessitated finding a corpse whose lungs were already full of fluid, so that any doctors who examined the body would accept that he had been at sea for some time.

A 34-year-old man was found, recently departed after ingesting rat poison and developing pneumonia. He'd have to appear that he had been dead for a while before falling to enemy hands so that the effects of the seawater would disguise the obvious decomposition.

Intelligence secretaries wrote love letters to Major Martin, one of them even including a photo of herself in a swimsuit to pass for the Major's girlfriend, Pam. Sir Cholmondley carried the letters in his wallet for several weeks to give them an authentic worn look. Martin's persona was further enhanced by adding overdue bills, an angry letter from his bank manager, a letter from his father, tickets, keys. All the sort of things that a real person would happen to carry, along with the documents that told of the Allies' plans of invasion.
When Operation Husky finally took place, the Allies found so little resistance from the enemy in Sicily that the Germans had to retreat all the way to Messina. The invasion was a complete success thanks to the mission carried out by a dead man.

Some sixty-years later another great plan is at work.

As some of you may have noticed, the Bush administration announced the decision for military action against Iraq. This imminent invasion has been declared, examined, criticized, cheered, re-examined and re-criticized to ad nauseam.

Newspapers freely talk about the impending invasion, detailing the possible day it would happen. Other articles talk about war games and the immense number of troops that have been recalled to take action in the impeding attack.

Even Time magazine had an elaborate article on it, including the amounts of troops, type of aircraft involved, the places where they would most likely be stationed. Helpful diagrams over the map of Iraq showed where three attacks would start, all converging on Baghdad.

All of this while Bush acted on the telly like that impatient child in the back of the car asking if we ?can attack yet, can we attack yet?? This image of great pressure being put on the government to approve of this upcoming attack seemed to be the top news item.

This may appear at first as the work of an idiot, carelessly announcing their invasion plans, having blind confidence in the overwhelming power of the United States army, especially after the Afghani experience, considered by some as an outstanding success.

But really, Bush never intended to attack.

Running a war is expensive. You don?t just send a bunch of ships and planes in and blow things up. Troops have to be rotated, food and supplies brought in, maintenance, pay for troops and many other things.

The war in Afghanistan had an estimated cost of 1.2 billion dollars. Per month. Include the fact that Bush had lowered taxes as part of his election promise and you find yourself with a country already with a huge deficit, powered with a great arsenal of weapons but no money to actually run a second war.

So what do you do when you want to scare your enemy into thinking that you are going to attack when you have no intention to doing so? You use CNN, the modern equivalent of Major William Martin.

That?s why media outlets were able to provide so much in-depth information about this attack that is so imminent.

The Iraqis watch CNN constantly talking about an attack in their homeland. They see large amounts of troops getting called in to prepare themselves for attack. Stock-footage of big, lumbering bombers being prepared. They see a President itching with impatience in blowing shit up real good, to continue the holy work his father had left off. They read about all the plans being worked out to arrive in their capital. And they watch over and over that the only thing that has been holding the Americans back is the discussions taking place in congress. But how long can that last, they wonder?

That?s why they suddenly changed their stance, by letting arm inspectors back in. They know the Americans are crazy enough to attack. And they will. Honest. It will happen real soon. In fact, we?re so eager to do it, it has just recently postponed to 2003.

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