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05 July 2010

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Jake

"A new country in an ancient land..."

Banging head on desk several times.....

ServingPatriot

Indeed, McCaffrey sounds like he is better suited with common sense than General Dave. But General Barry's penchant to always be on the side of the Beltway conventional wisdom (not to mention his extensive involvement as a defense contractor consultant/salesman/horator) makes me leery of placing him at the head of our operations in that ancient land.

The simplest solution to "winning" is to declare "victory," pick up all our pieces and leave (except for a small, counter-terror contingent to mop up those few remaining AQ guys, now numbered at less than 100!). Imagine how much less a problem Afghanistan will be when the money pump stops, and the billions washing through the black economy, mercenaries and Taliban controlled logistics companies (!!!) drains out. And how many fewer well-trained, expensive, precious, volunteer professional military soldiers (with spouses, kids and families at home) are killed, maimed and damaged for life.

I can think of many more useful ends for the billions of dollars we're pouring into that ancient land while millions of fellow American citizens remain jobless, without health care and increasingly, without adequate food.

SP

JustPlainDave

Descriptions of GEN McCaffrey's awards can be found here: http://www.mccaffreyassociates.com/pages/bio.htm

Bart

Colonel, on your BTW, I looked at the Wikipedia entry for General Petraeus and found this:

"Battles/wars

Operation Joint Forge (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Operation Uphold Democracy (Haiti)
Operation Desert Spring (Kuwait)
Operation Iraqi Freedom (Iraq)
Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan)"

All the rest of them are for, well, folks can see for themselves...

Patrick Lang

Bart

These are campaign credits. No medals for valor or wounds. The same is true of McChrystal. McCaferrey's case is quite different. His Purple Hearts would argue against some sort of "general officer" phenom. pl

Jackie

Petraeus must be sampling the local drugs if he thinks he is going to get a new country in an ancient land.

Talk about unrealistic!

JP

I am reminded of Archimedes' comment about a "lever long enough." He also mentioned "a place to stand." I'm afraid Gen. Petraeus is about to bite off far more than we will be willing to chew. Building a country indeed! Stanley at least recognized that the recipients of all this largesse have to WANT to be helped.

We have built a self-licking ice cream cone, and as long as we are willing to truck in the goodies, the recipients will lick, but when we try to stop, whatever we have imagined there will crumble into dust (or melted ice cream).

I have profoundly respected Barry McCaffrey, but getting into an endless battle against these "insurgents" is a forever game.

We went after al-Qa'ida. As SP points out, that target is perishingly small in Afghanistan. Time to declare victory, leave a hard core counter terrorist capability and draw down. If we do, or if we don't, Afghanistan will be the same in twenty years. It was ever thus.

Walrus

"Country in a box?"

Nightsticker

Colonel Lang,

There is nothing like an award for valor and a Purple Heart to give authenticity and a certain standing to a man's point of view on a war or War in general. Far too few of our current FOGO have them.

Campaign ribbons do tell a story, to the initiated, but earning them at the O-1 to O-3 level is usually a different story than earning them at the O-6 to O-8 level.

PS

This weekend was the anniversary of Gettysburg [the beginning of the end of Constitutional government]. At church we sang "Nearer My God To Thee". This is what a South Carolina regimental band played as our people came back and reformed after "Picket's Charge". Not sure if the Pastor knew.

Nightsticker
USMC 65-72
FBI 72-96


rick

Could "the right general" have been chosen for this job, given the politics?

If this administration was confronted with a Shinseki moment, where the competent expert gave the correct but unpopular answer in public, what makes anyone think they would behave any differently than the last?

I will allow smarter people than me to debate whether Gen. McChrystal's recent difficulties are an example of this.

Patrick Lang

nightsticker

"Nearer my God to Thee." Indeed. pl

Grimgrin

"A new country in an ancient land..."

Does that sound like it could have been a Zionist slogan to anyone else?

Maybe he's planning to colonize Afghanistan. They could probably get that through congress actually, you can continue to receive unemployment benefits indefinitely if you move to Afghanistan and become a farmer.

A Crusader kingdom in central asia could have it's advantages.

Roy G

What I wonder is who Gen. McCaffrey thinks 'won' the War on Drugs--another self-perpetuating money pit. It's a great model for the current situation, with the Taliban playing the MacGuffin, instead of Escobar, etc.

hilerie mcgahill

A new country in an ancient land: Is Gen Petraeus a believer in creation by intelligent design?

Al Spafford

Fianace for the "New Country in an Ancient Land" Recently in an interview with the Pitsburg Tribune, House Minority Leader Boehner stated that to ensure enough $ to pay for war it will require reforming the nation's entitilement system. he favors increasing the Soc Sec system with retirements put off to age 70 and limiting the payments to only "those in need" According to Boehner, "we just need to be honest with people". Ahhh, Boehner, the nations debt is not connected to the Soc Sec system -- unless you want to convert the soc sec payroll tax to war payments. Is he ignorant or dishonest -- or both? What a boner he is! This coming from our nation's "leadership"--who we have to lead us out of the "wilderness"!

R Whitman

Does General Petraeus see himself in the footsteps of Alexander the Great and Gengis Kahn(or is it Kubla Kahn)? Conquerers of Afganistan.

William P. Fitzgerald III

Pat Lang,

Our problem in Afghanistan is, and has been, that the tangible benefits to be gained don't justify the effort required to gain them. No amount of tinkering will fix that equation.

I knew McCaffrey at Ft. Knox in 1971 and '72. He was back from commanding a rifle company in the 1st/7th CAV and from the hospital after recovering from a pretty bad wound he got in Cambodia. He was a good guy and a good soldier.

WPFIII

William P. Fitzgerald III

pl

Make that 2/7 CAV.

Jane

The Marshall plan worked because it was attempted AFTER we defeated the Germans.

Support for the Nazis seems to have been eradicated by the totality of the defeat. In Japan we deliberately dismantled the warrior cast.

Under what conditions does a population abandon support for a cause which lead them into war?

Charles

"He said that COIN consists of more than political action and economic development. He said that COIN also requires vigorous combat action to keep pressure on the insurgents." is exactly Clear, Hold and Build. Ned to kill the enemy to clear an area -- something Petraeus did a lot of in Iraq. Need to secure the area to enable political and economic development (hold). And then facilitate that development (build). If McCaffery sounded different than Clear, Hold, Build, it was a distinction without a difference.

Twit

Slightly off topic, but may I recommend to the readership the following about Barry McCaffrey, by Janine Wadell. This is an excerpt from her excellent book, Shadow Elite, which discusses - and gives a framework to analyze - the various informal networks of power (for example, but not only, the neocons) that I think is pretty obvious drive things today. Wadell is an anthropologist at George Mason University. I think her point about being "in but not of" an organization is excellent and pertains not only to "deified" generals, but also reporters who serve their sources more than their employers let alone their readers, academics who compromise their tailor to get 'play' for their (often half-baked) ideas, or lower level appointees who carry water for major players in the hope that one day they can be like them.

*****

"Being in, but not of, an organization enables these players to pursue a “coincidence of interests,” that is, to interweave and perform overlapping roles that serve their own goals or those of their associates. Because these “nonstate” actors working for companies, quasi-governmental organizations, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) frequently do work that officials once did, they have privileged access to official information—information that they can deploy to their own ends. And they have more opportunities to use this information for purposes that are neither in the public interest nor easily detected, all the while controlling the message to keep their game going.

Take, for instance, Barry R. McCaffrey, retired four-star army general, military analyst for the media, defense industry consultant, president of his own consulting firm, part-time professor, and expert, whose advice on the conduct of the post-9/11 U.S. wars was sought by the George W. Bush administration and Congress. Crucial to McCaffrey’s success in these roles was the special access afforded him by the Pentagon and associates still in the military. This included special trips to war zones arranged specifically for him, according to a November 2008 expose in the New York Times. McCaffrey gleaned information from these trips that proved useful in other roles—and not only his part-time professorship at the U.S. Military Academy, which the Pentagon claimed is the umbrella under which his outsider’s perspective was sought.

At a time when the administration was trying to convince the American people of the efficacy of U.S. intervention in Iraq, the general appeared frequently as a commentator on the television news—nearly a thousand times on NBC and its affiliates. He was variously introduced as a Gulf War hero, a professor, and a decorated veteran, but not as an unofficial spokesperson for the Pentagon and its positions. He also was oft-quoted in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and other leading newspapers.

Further, in June 2007, according to the Times, he signed a consulting contract with one of many defense companies he had relationships with, which sought his services to win a lucrative government contract. Four days later, McCaffrey did the firm’s bidding by personally recommending to General David Petraeus, the commanding general in Iraq, that the company supply Iraq with armored vehicles, never mentioning his relationship to it. Nor did he reveal these ties when he appeared on CNBC that same week, during which he praised Petraeus, nor to Congress, where he not only lobbied to have the company supply Iraq with armored vehicles but directly criticized the company’s competitor."

http://www.alternet.org/module/printversion/145533

William R. Cumming

Would be of interest to learn what factors have been considered by this Administration when its civilian leadership selects [or interferes with?]officer ops?

Fred

Al,

Some politicians think the most important war is the one against the New Deal. Eliminating 'entitlement' programs has been on their agenda for decades. The only people who can prevent that are those pesky 'liberals' i.e. the Democrats.

Schools, hospitals and health care for Afghanistan's children and equal rights for their women? Sure thing; apparently according to Boehner Americans are only entitled to the bills to pay for them - including the butchers bill.

Jane asks:
"Under what conditions does a population abandon support for a cause which lead them into war?"

I believe in the US it is the slow awakening to the fact that the 'people' in Afghanistan, no more so than the people in Iraq, did not attack the US; and that our political leadership used the wars as justification to pursue goals not supported by a majority of the American people.

Howler

It may be too late to comment on 'reading ribbons' but consider this fellow. Of course his time in service was short in comparison.
http://www.warfoto.com/AudieMurphy.htm

Patrick Lang

Howler

You must be f-----g mad to make such a comparison. pl

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