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22 September 2010


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That said, I have the strong suspicion that the last president who handled military leadership properly was Eisenhower.

William R. Cumming

The problem in the military flag ranks is the same as in the financial sector. ME! ME! ME! These guys are always posturing for post-employment by the military opportunities. Just part of the cultural corruption that has now spread to military elites. Perhaps a mandatory tour in a National Guard unit would be a help in having the future flag ranks understand democracy and federalism. Clearly while the herorism and sacrifice of some is legion and very important that citizens continue to be willing to give the last full measure, higher ranks in the military have become much like the FBI culture. 20 years and out for gold badge agents likely to a lucrative career. WHY on 20 years because of job hazards. Have you looked at the killed in line of duty statistics for FBI lately! For real danger try the DEA or Border Patrol.

Hey PL you are correct to indicate that civil government should be leery of this trend. Remember it was only after the loyalty of Roman Legions deployed outside of Italy that became the basis of the ending of the Republic and beginning of the EMPIRE. Many of the FLAG RANKS are no longer rooted in the civilian culture and constantly assure themselves they are the last bastion of the US effort to fend off the world's problems. Let's start with all those post commanders that allow the "slicky boys" to rip off and destroy their troops and sailors personal lives. A credit report on each of the officer grades released in summary might be revealing. When I worked integrity issues in the Treasury Dept and IRS it was always those who were senior that had the most sense of entitlement and knew the system well enough to manipulate even for personal gain. Perhaps the same in military high command?

SAC Brat

Geez, you had to post this while I've been reading a book on Marshall's and MacArthur's actions in late 1941 and early 1942....

The idea does come to mind that some joker in Afghanistan is resending MacArthur's messages to Washington with minor editing for name changes.

Nancy K

It does seem our country is starting to implode.
What do the generals want. eternal war? Do they really believe we will keep giving up our children to be cannon fodder without bringing back the draft?
It seems the draft may not work anymore, all a person would have to do is say they are homosexual and they could no longer serve.
I imagine then don't ask don't tell would be swiftly repealed.
We live in strange times.

Michael Drew

Now that you mention it, it's not clear to me how that quote isn't easily as insubordinate as any that came directly from McChrystal's mouth in the Rolling Stone piece, and indeed how it doesn't nearly represent the Platonic ideal of an insubordinate spirit, though obviously taking action pursuant to this attitude, or displaying it directly toward the president in person would be greater examples in practice.

Patrick Lang


All you had to do to get out of the draft was tell them you were gay, or even mildly joyous. pl

Retired (once-Serving)Patriot

As I said from the beginning of this Administration, Obama needed to ask for the resignations of pretty much all the 3-stars and above.

Besides the fact that none of them "won" when in command, they are products of the Cheney-Rumsfeld-Myers system of advancing sycophants and destroying truth-tellers. To many of them are loyal to themselves first, the "company" second and only then to the country, their troops and the mission. (Of course more than a few are loyal first to "their Lord and Savior" - ahead of even their country!)

As much as I'd like to believe Obama is triangulating and multi-dimension chess gaming the rising Caesar (aka General Dave), I'm afraid he is simply too afraid of them to force a showdown. Sadly, he's far unlike that other Illinoisan, this CinC suffers the modern McClellands much too much.

Nancy K

Col Lang, I think times are different now. In the early 70's there was more of a stigma against being gay. Most young people now do not feel the same way. I think they would use the gay defense. Although I think joyous sounds better.


I don't know about anybody else but i am weary of these Woodward books, and Woodward style. I long for footnotes. This strikes me as a bunch of self serving, unverifiable,crap. That is not to say it contains no truth, or accuracy. But the truth contained in it has just enough spin, hidden agendas, and subtle textual skills to render the 'truth' not only meaningless, but dangerous, as well. It will be a sign of maturity the day we turn our backs on this technique of writing, and this writer, in particular. Not because he is any worse than dozens of others. Rather, because of the symbolism to turning away from this kind of crap, and specifically, Woodward.



The federal government has been seized by the corporate interests; Financial and Military. It simply does not care about the unemployed or soldiers serving in two unwinnable wars; all that matters is rising corporate profits.

Unfettered Capitalism either explodes in revolution or implodes into a depression. Unless citizens regain control of their government, America’s future is bleak.

Cold War Zoomie

The last line of the article, the Petraeus quote, scares the living daylights out of me:

"You have to recognize also that I don't think you win this war. I think you keep fighting. It's a little bit like Iraq, actually...Yes, there has been enormous progress in Iraq. But there are still horrific attacks in Iraq, and you have to stay vigilant. You have to stay after it. This is the kind of fight we're in for the rest of our lives and probably our kids' lives."

What is wrong with these people? Why the f&*k should we bankrupt the entire friggin country to play nation-building in Afghanistan for a generation? What do we get out of it?

These people have become delusional. They are completely out of touch with the reality back here at home.

And the only remedy we have to fix these dysfunctional institutions and systems is to run out of money so these bozos cannot play empire any more.

ex-PFC Chuck
Geez, you had to post this while I've been reading a book on Marshall's and MacArthur's actions in late 1941 and early 1942....

SACBrat, could you post the name of that book?

Norbert N, Salamon

Such opposition by some highly placed military personel aqainst the CinC, the President, is indicative of hubris and poor education received [or acquired] by members of the Generals/Admirals.

The effect against which President Eisenhower has commented, the Military Industrial Complex [both the Pentagon and private government supported armament/intelligence/IT businesses] has came to fruition, whereby this group feels that it is the MOST IMPORTANT segment of the commons, and should operate with full force regardless of the economic reality facing the nation.

That they so disregard the welfare of the citizens indicate that their education is woefully poor on one hand, and that their concept of HONOR is totally misplaced, wherein they put it under the aegis of the Military, as opposed to their oath of office, the Constitution.
The Constitution is not only a way to divide political power in the State, it is the embodiment of the benefit of the citizens. When the Gerneral Officer Core [with some excetion, e.g. Admiral Fallon and others] put thier importance above that of the citizens at large, then in my personal opinion they commit the highest level of treason against the nation. Of course this also applies to the Isreal First crowd in national politics, and their spokesmen in MSM.


"All you had to do to get out of the draft was tell them you were gay, or even mildly joyous. pl"

Now you tell me. Surely, you are joking, Sir! (with apologies to Professor Feynman)


"The title derives from a woman's response at Princeton University when, after she asked the newly-arrived Feynman if he wanted cream or lemon in his tea, he requested both (not knowing that they would curdle"

Farmer Don

Sorry off topic, but here is a story about a computer virus that was made to attack industrial PLCs (programable logic controlers). An expert in germany speculates that this program was made to hack the iranian reactor.


different clue

Is President Obama politically afraid of being branded the President who "lost Afghanistan"? Is he afraid of being accused of "losing Afghanistan" in public by the generals?

The only hope we have of leaving Afghanistan is if we the voters are given a "leave Afghanistan" choice to vote for. And since the political establishments are determined to prevent the emergence of any such choice, is there some way a big-enough bloc of voters can force such a choice onto relevant ballots in the teeth of establishment opposition?

Are embittered progressives and liberals prepared to find a candidate to mount a primary challenge to Obama? With a challenger running on
accepting defeat and retreat from Afghanistan? Or is the "Democratic wing of the Democratic Party" so transfixed by fear of a President Palin that they will support Obama for Four More Years regardless? If so, would Kucinich and Paul defect from their respective parties and try getting onto ballots as the
"leave Afghanistan" ticket?

I doubt Senator Hagel is afraid of any generals. Could he stand another round
of politics to be part of a
"domestic the generals" movement?

different clue

( . . . that's domestiCATE
the generals )

Patrick Lang


What, you didn't try telling them you were gay? Seriously, what you had to do was to check the block on the medical history induction form that said "Do you have homosexual tendencies?" Then, you had to stick to your story and you would be rejected for military service. Nancy K is right. People didn't want to admit this then. One kid in my rifle platoon taped an artillery simulator to his belly in the latrine and pulled the pin. He just burned the hell out of himself. I went to see him the hospital with my closeted gay platoon sergeant (three Silver Stars). The boy said that he couldn't stand living in the baracks with all these lovely men. pl

Cold War Zoomie

"With a challenger running on accepting defeat and retreat from Afghanistan?"

Nobody has defeated us. We are in the middle of scoring an "own goal" because we insist on following this nation building strategy rather than a much less costly one. We have a choice not to follow that strategy but we have rejected that option. So we'll go broke and then leave.

This is what gives me my daily aneurysm - so many of our problems are self inflicted because we have allowed our institutions and systems to devolve into pure idiocy.

SAC Brat

ex-PFC Chuck

Currently reading "15 Stars" by Stanley Weintraub, about Eisenhower, MacArthur and Marshall. Seems good with a lot of quotes from Eisenhower's diary. I've also been listening to the Forrest Pogue interviews with Marshall on iTunes (free).

One gets the impression that Saint Peter probably asked Marshall for help when he arrived upstairs.

Reading two biographies and a signed autobiography of Curtis LeMay I never got any idea that LeMay thought that he was above the President he was serving under.

Patrick Lang

ex pfc

Marshall is an incredible figure. pl


you are right Col., it was not socially acceptable back then to be identified as gay (I"m not).

but today, it's not a big thing, that's why Nancy K. is right, if there was a draft they would have to repeal the DADT or the all the potential draftees would self identify as "joyous."

it cracked me up when Ken Mehlman, former chairman of the G.O.P. & Dubya campaign chair finally came out of the closet. Laura had pleaded w/ Dubya to let up on the gay bashing b/c some of their best friends were gays. Not to mention that Cheney's daughter Mary was married to a woman.

My county, which has all republican county commissioners & sheriff is about to elect a gay clerk of court. Simply because he is the most qualified person for the job and everybody knows it. the public does not want a politico messing around w/ their wills, estates, & lawsuits!


But what surprises me in this is the lack of consideration of the role of the Secretary of Defense.

Isn't he supporting the generals who feel free to go up against the President? Or is he not?


This situation, a fight between the Military and The White House was predictable, as is the conclusion, which is utter devastation for the services and Afghanistan, perhaps Iraq and national tragedy for America.

Once again, at the risk of your wrath, I have to raise the issue of Narcissists in Management cum leadership roles once again.

What you need to understand is that the Generals will do to the military exactly what their fellow narcissists have done to the American economy. Who do you think built the housing market CFD ponzi scheme? Who do you think destroyed Enron and a host of other companies? Who do you think allowed Government to build a mountain of debt? Hard working, God fearing folk, sensitive to the supplications of the average American? No.

That such people populate the higher ranks of the Military there can now be no doubt. Gen. McChrystal was a classic. Then there was Cruiser Captain Holly Graf. Now there is Gen. Petreaus mouthing off.

It is quite clear that without an Afghan, Iraq or Iranian war, an axe is going to need to be taken to the defence budget and the ranks of the Generals thinned. Do you think that the Generals are going to take that lying down? Do you think they will put national interest as dictated by the President ahead of their careers? Heck no!

Why are we discussing the supply line vulnerabilities in Afghanistan and Iraq? Why are we discussing the rules of engagement that result in extra casualties for troops but minimise "collateral damage" to General Officers careers? Why does WRC comment above about:

"post commanders that allow the "slicky boys" to rip off and destroy their troops and sailors personal lives.......
...........When I worked integrity issues in the Treasury Dept and IRS it was always those who were senior that had the most sense of entitlement and knew the system well enough to manipulate even for personal gain."?

Once you have a narcissist in charge, only junior narcissists will work for them because only another narcissist will tolerate working for one, they kiss backsides easily. The good and truthful are forced out and the narcissists multiply as one "ascends" the tree. It makes no difference whether we are talking Military, Corporate, legislative, Judiicial or Academic arenas.

The issue with narcissists is that they only think of themselves. They don't do empathy. They are often highly intelligent and hard working. They get excellent grades, always.

The dark side is that they are great haters and will instantly back-stab competition or even potential competition, and anyone seen to be an obstacle to their career progression. As for their underlings, they are treated like dirt, often even cursed for having nothing more to give. Their defining characteristics are that they cannot and do not possess any ability to empathize with ordinary human beings, they have a sense of entitlement and believe rules and regulations are for "little people" as Leona Hemsley, a raving narcissist, once put it.

The answer is that each and every narcissist is intent on their own advancement and devil take the hindmost or anyone who gets in their way. Could Petreaus care about the supply line to Karachi? Of course he cares, and this is the key, but only as it affects his career and his personal ambitions.

Yes, the Taliban might cut those lines, and the resulting rout might destroy his retirement career. The fact that his troops are left in peril, perhaps fighting their way out via Iran, is immaterial to him. He and his staff are on the first plane out.

We got ourselves into this situation by ditching "character" and affiliations from school, University, class, etc, from our selection processes, instead focusing on "merit", something that narcissists know how to do well.

At least with the "old" methods, you knew who the creeps were, no matter what their academic or career achievements indicated, because you had observed them as equals over long periods of time when their personal qualities cannot be masked. There are people I went to school with Fifty years ago that I still remember as being nasty pieces of work from the playground and football field, unfortunately such knowledge is now inadmissible in hiring and promotion decisions.

I've asked repeatedly if anyone can point to someone who has worked for Gen. Petreaus who can tell us if it was an ennobling experience that left them a better person or if it was shear hell?

I'd also like to pose a question to Col. Lang. With respect, can you tell us if your decision to retire was perhaps driven by the necessity of "drinking the Kool Aid" and kissing backsides if you wanted to stay?

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