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19 September 2010

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Jackie

Obama may be giving Petraeus just enough rope to do himself in. Stanley didn't last long after opining on certain subjects.

I don't want to see Obama rolled ala LBJ. I know you love the military, sir, but they aren't the god and kings and need to be told so occasionally.

J

Colonel,

Notice the word 'insubordination' that came up in the article's reader response column regarding P and company's behavior, then there also was the word 'kabuki' theater where the feeling some readers that P and company were actually doing what O wanted in the first place.

The I word or K word, which? Guess time will tell.

walrus

Petreaus will roll Obama because Obama doesn't have the guts to fight it out. In my opinion, there is going to be a "McArthur moment" in 2011 when Petreaus either gets what he wants or runs for the Presidency himself and beats Obama.

Obama has narcissistic personality disorder and narcissists are cowards at heart. The last shreds of doubt in my mind were removed by his widely reported words at a $30,000 a plate Democratic Fundraiser:

"Democrats, just congenitally, tend to get -- to see the glass as half empty. (Laughter.) If we get an historic health care bill passed -- oh, well, the public option wasn't there. If you get the financial reform bill passed -- then, well, I don't know about this particular derivatives rule, I'm not sure that I'm satisfied with that. And gosh, we haven't yet brought about world peace and -- (laughter.) I thought that was going to happen quicker. (Laughter.) You know who you are. (Laughter.) We have had the most productive, progressive legislative session in at least a generation."

Neil Richardson

"Obama may be giving Petraeus just enough rope to do himself in. Stanley didn't last long after opining on certain subjects.

I don't want to see Obama rolled ala LBJ. I know you love the military, sir, but they aren't the god and kings and need to be told so occasionally.

Posted by: Jackie | 19 September 2010 at 07:03 PM."


Nobody rolled LBJ. In fact it was the other way around with McNamara as the ultimate sycophant back in 1964. Harold K. Johnson gave the civilian leadership clear alternatives of either go all in or get out. Electoral considerations led to the strategy of graduated pressure. I suggest you read H.R. McMaster's _Dereliction of Duty_. The fault of the JCS was their reluctance to resign as Harold K. Johnson regretted until the end of his life.

Charles

I wouldn't put too much stock in the reports of what the President and Petraeus said or did not say in the Oval Office. Jun 11 has always been the start of a process to hand over to Afghan forces, not a withdrawal date. The assumption here is that Petraeus is playing the President, but I'd say the President is playing his radical left -- supporting the idea of withdrawal to make them happy while recognizing the realities on the ground.

Castellio

I believe the article below should be read in relation to this thread. I don't share the enthusiasm of the writer, but I do think Blackwill's analysis of future US policy in Afghanistan likely correct as to what will happen, at least in the short term.

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/LI18Df02.html

Fred

Walrus, what '$30,000' a plate fundraiser was this?

Redhand

Obama has narcissistic personality disorder and narcissists are cowards at heart. The last shreds of doubt in my mind were removed by his widely reported words at a $30,000 a plate Democratic Fundraiser

His comments here were the last straw for me: the man is a complete counterfeit. Glenn Greenwald's post, Obama's view of liberal criticisms summarizes the progressive case against his "middle of the road" policies quite well.

As for the war in Afghanistan, I no longer see how any vital American interests are implicated in it. What are we doing there, other than making the region safe for Karzai's corruption?

As to whether Obama is being "hustled," the first comment to the referenced article makes sense to me: "Or it’s all kabuki to make it look like Obama’s being hustled, when in reality, Mr. Porter, Obama is fully for what ever Petraeus wants.

During the 2008 campaign, Obama constantly referred to this conflict as "a war worth fighting." I think he has almost completely transited to the idea that it is a quagmire worth keeping, because the political price of pulling out is greater to him than the savings in blood and treasure if he pulls out. General "You, Sir, are a Hero" Petraeus is becoming the policy-maker/political tool that he was for Bush, when the latter realized that the only "policy" he was capable of was abdication to the military: "Whatever the General wants."

I could be surprised if Obama fires Petraeus down the road, but I don't think that's going to happen. It could hurt Obama's chances in 2012.

Jake

The scary part about all of this is that no one in the WH or Puzzle Palace seems to want to understand reality...

Time to let Afghanistan stand on its own two feet.

Time to bring all the troops home....Alive....

graywolf

A narcissistic empty suit with a blank resume.
Commander in Chief?
ROFLMAO.
People get the government they deserve.

ISL

Charles: I presume by "reality on the ground." you mean the "ground in DC" and the electorate.

Walrus: Thanks. Not certain which school of politics teaches: Trash your base; they will still show up at election time.

Anna-Marina

"People get the government they deserve."
People get the government that corporations decided to buy. - It is doubtful that people have a real say in choosing the government.

Fred

Greywolf,

yes, that's why we got Bush and Cheney, LBJ and Nixon and so on...

BillWade

Graywolf, a "sleeping giant" is waking up, be careful what you wish for.

Nancy K

graywolf, maybe Sarah Palin and O'Donnel will be elected in 2012 and you will get the government you deserve. You betcha.
God help us all.

Fred

As long as we are quoting Greenwald:
http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/09/16/tea_party/index.html

Pretty much sums things up inside the beltway.

Patrick Lang

Neil R.

General Johnson came to talk to my class at the Armed Forces Staff College in 1973 (?). He told us about this and asked for our foregiveness. He was captured on Bataan and survived the Death March and Japanese captivity. He was clearly brokenhearted over his failure to resign in protest. One of my classmates who had been a PW for six years in NVN asked him why he did not resign. He said that he had thought that president Johnson would do it anyway and that he had foolishly thought that he could carry out this disastrous decision better than others. The class stood in respect when he left but did not applaud him. pl

graywolf

Fred, BillWade, Nancy K:
Just checking.
You're still slurping that koolaid.

ked

We could use more respect & less applause these days.

Many seem upset with Obama - I don't understand why. We were either going to get McCain or him - anyone prefer McCain in retrospect? Obama was to become either a great pres or a typical one. So, he's typical... is that a surprise?

One wonders if our unfolding path of empire reveals momentum that suggests individuals are a sideshow. Very Un-American.

dan bradburd

Just a question: does anyone have any reason to assume that Petraeus would survive the Republican primaries? Whatever his faults, I have trouble seeing him as a Tea Party guy.

Sidney O. Smith III

From what I could glean, a McCain presidency may very well have given us a real life prelude to Cormac McCarthy’s novel, The Road. Or, if you prefer, Miller's Canticle for Liebowitz.

Uh...I think I will pass. In this day and age, gotta’ play the odds in the electoral game.

And a civilian, especially a CinC, has gotta’ learn to separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to the Pentagon, both civilian and military.

Not confident that Pres. Obama has gained that kind of wisdom yet but we shall see.

As for “Dubya” I am inclined to believe that both civilians and some in the military at the Pentagon “rolled” President Bush. (the first time I heard “rolled” re: Bush was Col. Lang’s interview posted recently).

Redhand

Many seem upset with Obama - I don't understand why.

Start with the massive disconnect between the revolutionary rhetoric of his campaign, which promised a President who would be truly different, and the politics-as-usual presidency he has delivered. If I had known how Clintonesque he was going to be, I would have voted for Hillary. At least then I would have known what I was getting.

Medicine Man

@Dan Bradburd,

It looks like the Republicans just adopted a proportional representation model for their primaries—which goes a long way towards preventing fringe candidates from dominating the primary process. Hopefully that will give more moderate Republicans a shot at winning the party nomination.

@ked,

I think I see the presidency (and Obama) about the same as you do, at the moment. I had Obama pegged as an optimistic establishment guy and in that aspect he hasn't disappointed. He's not terrible, but he's also not the person to reform the US government. As I've said before (here?), I'm more worried he's a modern version of Hoover than anything else.

Norbert N, Salamon

Medicine Man:

Mr Obama might be facing similar economic problems in 2010 as Mr Hoover did earlier but the reality is that the two eras of economic malaise in USA can not be comnpared.

1., ECONOMIC: At the time of Mr. Hoover the USA WAS NOT INDEBTED TO 'unfriendly" nations, among others, to the tune of 100% of GDP [public and business/etc], nor did she need to import 60+% of the required oil for her evonomy to operate.

2., FOREIGN POLICY and its COST. Mr Hoover did not inherit 2 open wars [Iraq and Afghanistan] and two semi wars [Yemen and Somalia], nor did Mr Hoover have to worry about AIPAC, nor if Israel starts a war which could be suicidal for the USA.

Therer is no possibility that the USA economy will ever reach the level of 2006, there is a chance [high %, I hope] that the USA does not start another war, and that it will manage to ease out of the empire period in same manner as the USSR did earler - ELSE it is porobably the end of civilization.

Neil Richardson


"General Johnson came to talk to my class at the Armed Forces Staff College in 1973 (?). He told us about this and asked for our foregiveness. He was captured on Bataan and survived the Death March and Japanese captivity. He was clearly brokenhearted over his failure to resign in protest. One of my classmates who had been a PW for six years in NVN asked him why he did not resign. He said that he had thought that president Johnson would do it anyway and that he had foolishly thought that he could carry out this disastrous decision better than others. The class stood in respect when he left but did not applaud him. pl"


Dear Col. Lang,

Thank you for the account. I had heard a long time ago that General Johnson had opposed the graduated pressure but didn't realize the extent of political motivation on the part of the White House until looking at McMaster's documentation. As for your classmate, I could imagine but will never understand the price which you and your generation had paid during the period.

Going OT, what is the motivation of these COINistas (e.g., Petraeus, Nagl, Exum, et. al.)? I could take a cynical view re: Petraeus and attribute it to his political aspirations, but I cannot make out why the younger generation wants to do this regardless of the cost. I was a part of the lucky generation in that we came in after Vietnam, but did you or your friends feel that there were unfinished business regarding COIN after 1975 (as a doctrine or in practice)? Until a few years ago I felt the Army had to preserve the lessons of Iraq and institutionalize it as a part of the full spectrum of warfighting capabilities. (Of course to you these lessons were probably yet another example of the Army reinventing the wheel) I was naive and foolish in thinking that it could be done without harming the institution itself. Part of my reasoning at the time was that I was cynical enough to assume that the political leadership would inevitably get the Army into a situation requiring COIN. Without the necessary tools I was afraid my children and perhaps even my grandchildren would have to pay the price again. Now I am thinking of this COIN debate wondering if this isn't an example of a young child running around with a pair of scissors because his father forgot to lock up the toolbox. What is the appropriate level of COIN capabilities within the Army? I remember General Meyer and later General Wickham were concerned about the Army's overemphasis on the defense of FRG and reestablished light infantry divisions for other contingencies but I don't recall a mention of COIN or anything remotely related to it. Should COIN be relegated to the special operations community only as we downsize the Army?

I don't recall having too many conversations on Vietnam with older people back in the late 1970s and 1980s. Even those who'd been in Cambodia with 11th Cav were rather reticent and short with their answers whenever the topic came up. Going back to Gen. Johnson, I am curious about what McMaster's thinking might be regarding Afghanistan. AFAIK he's a gradualist on the RMA debate who clearly understands that the Army and the nation cannot possibly afford to neglect high intensity warfighting capabilities. Unlike almost all COINistas of prominence (e.g., Nagl, Exum, Petraeus) McMaster knows what it means to lead a cav troop against an armored brigade (in a proverbial knife fight in a phone booth). Gian Gentile has been vociferous in his criticism of COINinstas and he had alluded to the support from some general officers who are very concerned about the future direction of the Army institutionally and doctrinally. (Almost all had fought with 3ID in 2003. As you know the high intensity of that operation has never been fully publicized as many assume that it was just a cakewalk.)

FWIW, I'm reminded of the lessons of the British Army in the 1920s and 1930s. Colonial commitments and the Great Depression cost them dearly as they squandered the huge lead in mechanized warfare due to budget cuts. Right now I just don't see the sort of imaginative discussions regarding the ongoing RMA. I was rereading the accounts of the last years of the Infantry and Cavalry branches in 1939-41. It's still amazing to me that General Marshall was able to transform the Army so quickly under the most trying circumstances. As you know John K. Herr famously uttered "Not one more horse will I give up for a tank" in May 1940. As I am trying to understand the implications of the emerging robotics technology, I just don't see much of the sort of vibrant discussions that men like Chaffee, Patton, Ike, Harmon, and Grow had (sometimes surreptitiously). They knew the technology was well behind their imaginations, but at least they'd tinkered with ideas on how to operationalize concepts. By focusing on COIN, I am wondering if we're not making a huge mistake institutionally. As I recall you were stationed in FRG in the late 1960s. I cannot imagine the operational challenges facing CENTAG in those days. Were there discussions on what to do after Vietnam?

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