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12 February 2008


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William R. Cumming

Not really the fog of war just the fog of bureacracy revealed. Amazing but true perhaps that "WARS" are not won but just not lost. Geography and casualties used to be the metrics for success. What is it now? If estimates of 25% of Iraqi population has left or relocated when that figure hits 100% perhaps we have "Won."

Duncan Kinder

The kindest thing that I can say about this situation, ( and my actual thoughts are less kind ) is that our Iraq strategy has been "Cartesian" rather than "Baconian" in its orientation.

That is, it has been more concerned with implementing fixed, a priori concepts than responding to dynamic, a posteriori facts.

505th PIR

Reading this and stepping back to look at the greater context of it all I am wondering if OIF ought to be renamed operation Blue on Blue.

4000 of our finest murdered by "The Decider" and his delusional neo-con junta.



Col. Lang:

I'm reminded again of the dilemmas posed by your post "We wuzn't fooled, or something..."

My conclusion to all of it is simple: Where is it written that we won't or can't fail?

People are constantly getting "stuck." They get themselves caught in conflicts they can't resolve by using the tactics that have worked for them before, and, despite evidence to the contrary, they persist in repeating the same mistakes over and over again. 'It'll be better tomorrow' is a mantra we all claim will save us from the disaster staring us in the face - the ultimate perversion of hope.

Organizations are not immune from this kind of thinking; it's part of what makes change so difficult.

I've often thought that the only way out of this dilemma is an honest-to-god disaster where it becomes so evident that things are not working out that doing anything else becomes a more tenable alternative.

Depressions and World Wars fall into that category. I had thought that 9/11 would too.

It could have, but the country was not allowed to get involved in solving the problem, but instead was asked to continue to be "normal."

In extraordinary circumstances normal solutions don't always help. Clearly, our continuing in the same old behavior as if 9/11 were a familiar problem that we've solved before hasn't worked out.

What's tragic is that we've done this, in part, for ideological reasons as if the power of ideological strictures would help overcome the weight of reality. We've lost our way.

The MASH analogy is a good one as would be Heller's "Catch 22." As Stein points out, the problem is that BJ, Hawkeye and Colonel Potter are no longer examples of how we can win in spite of ourselves. Or, in LTC Yingling's terms, examples of our potential for creative intelligence and moral courage. Instead, they have become examples of who is entitled to be scapegoated for not playing by the ideological rules, or, for not being on the ideological team.

Are there solutions? A further disaster would be one. I certainly hope that there are others less painful.

The New York Crank

This just proves the validity of one of the terms on the list of the world's most popular oxymorons: Military Intelligence

Yours crankily,
The New York Crank


all I can do is sake my head in disbelief. God help America.

W. Patrick Lang


It wasn't like that on my watch. pl



Thanks for your post. Now I do need to get a copy of Mr. Rossmiller's book and read it, but boy could I write a screed on this. Your post brought me back to my days in MI. Back then (mid to late 60's) the young Middlebury grad with the foreign studies background would've been drafted upon losing his student deferment, and then "enlisted" upon learning that his education and aptitude qualified him for Military Intel and perhaps never wearing a uniform. For the additional one-year commitment he would've been sent thru either the Intelligence Agent or Counterintelligence Agent course at Fort Holabird in Baltimore (referred to fondly by grunt and officer alike as Fort Ha Ha, as Colonel Lang will attest), perhaps then sent on for additional training at the Army Language School in Monterey, and eventually assigned to an MI Company or Field Office where the average educational level of the enlisted personnel was 5+ years college. There he would've encountered the same MASH-like conditions you describe, but with a major difference. His reports would've gone up the chain exactly as written, because this was a military unit where we did follow orders, and altering a field agent's report was strictly verboten. Mind you the reports still could've been ignored, but if there were a flood of them not so much....

I could go on but will have to read the book first. Thanks again for your post.



alnval wrote:

"Depressions and World Wars fall into that category. I had thought that 9/11 would too."

Maybe that's it, alnval. Maybe it was ludicrous, and self defeating, to put a spectacular, and deadly, criminal act of terrorism, in the same catagory as the Depression and WWII. Those events threatened our Republic. In both cases, had things gone wrong, the nation would not have survived as a Republic. This was not so with 9/11. However, it may very well be so with our reaction to 9/11.

anna missed

I watched the film "no End In Sight" the other night. What the film makes especially clear is the continuous trail of tears from the State Dept. diplomatic personal. There is ample evidence that all the liberal talk about bringing reform and reconstruction to Iraq post invasion - has never amounted to anything but talk. They have been systematically ignored up to this point in time, and the lions share the "Fiasco" and "Emerald City" character of the occupation can be attributed to this fact (amongst all the others). I think the "incompetence" label being applied to a willful ignorance is wrong.

Babak Makkinejad


US in Africa:


Oh good grief

I find myself very much with 'anna missed' here. I don't ultimately 'buy' the incompetence label.

If the higher ups really wanted genuine intel, they would move the world to get it, and they would heed it.

I think we have to put 2 + 2 together and get 4. The idea from the beginning was the decentralization and destruction of the state (economy, education, medical services) of Iraq.

That goal has been achieved, it is now being maintained.

Who really believes the American government wanted to know what happened on 9/11? If they had, they wouldn't have organized the inquiry the way they did. They would have searched the country to find the real talent to do a real investigation, and not have destroyed evidence, or hired paid shills, or cut short the investigation, or avoided obvious questions, and not delivered any public accountability.

Sometime people get what they want: a destroyed state, and confusion around the supposed motivation.

W. Patrick Lang


You suffer from the illusion that the universe has meaning.

You need to have had more experience of actual government at the imperial level. pl

Oh good grief


I accept the criticism, and hope (against hope) that you are right.

Strange, eh?

Dr. Bob

Hi Jeff,

Inspired by McGee's post, I thought I'd post these notions.

As an Fort Ha Ha Alum I hope my former classmates can relate..

Nice article on Rossmiller.

While under-cover in Vietnam I can tell you that
Saigon was ripe with M.A.S.H type incidents. When we were being followed to agent/source meetings, we notice they mostly were "anglos" translation...Other friendly intel agencies trying to steal my source.

I was constantly running into Holibird classmates under bogus covers. It was surreal.

After being in Saigon for six months and running around as a MACV civilian. The army made us put on our uniforms to go on R & R ....and oh yes..there was a full bird colonel I'd called "Jim" all this time sitting three rows ahead of us. My partner (a lawyer) told him we were on an asignment and that we would fill him in when we got back.

Oh, did I mention the agent that blew his cover when he drew his revolver, aimed and put two rounds in his forearm as he attempted to steady his aim.

Or...oh hell, you get the picture.

I bet you could write a book on this very subject. Most people think intel groups are like James Bond.

Not so methinks!

Thanks for the inspiration McGee,

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