« Intelligence community paper on Israel? | Main | New Athenaeum Post »

30 August 2012


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

The Twisted Genius

Global blivet! I haven't heard such an appropriate description of our situation in quite some time. That is if de Borchgrave used the term in the same way I first learned it... ten pounds of shit in a five pound sack.


Many thanks to you for this amazingly insightful post ... is there a way of forwarding this post to a family member of mines who really needs a fresh perspective? or do I have to copy and paste and send?

The Twisted Genius

It is not just the general purpose armed forces that are ill-suited for working with the "natives." Most of our special operations forces are equally ill-suited. I remember when then Colonel Garrison of Delta told us he would never put his American operators into the hands of any of our foreign traitors. He was referring to our recruited, trained and repeatedly tested local support assets. His operators are door kickers... damned fine door kickers, but not suited for working with locals in any way. They may work with other foreign commando units who are essentially just like them, but that's the extent of their outreach to locals.



"There's not many of us left in the old company."My bride was just saying the the GBs of yore NEVER, pNEVER treated foreign people this way. pl

ex-PFC Chuck

Most browsers have a "Send Link," or similarly named, function that will invoke a new email composition window which already contains in its top line of text the URL of the webpage that was in focus when you clicked on the function. In the Mozilla Firefox browser, "Send Link" is the fifth alternative under the "File" command.

Alba Etie

Col Lang
Wonder how much of these racist attitudes also have to do with some senoir military leadership having a 'Rapture" world view re the End Days are coming for a final clash of believers and non believers. Gen Boykin for example is said to have a Christian Dominionist world view. And did not recently a senior officer teach a class at the Air Force Academy saying essentially that we need to 'nuke the Moslems'?


Alba Etie

There are not many such GOs in the Army or marines. the USAF is particularly so infested. There are also a lot of Mormons in the USAF. Boykin was kind of a fluke. He was an Appalachian mountains kind of man who was the product of that culture. He rose so high because he was the beneficiary of Congress' insistence on the creation of Delta. This became a breeding ground for a group of Army generals. They seem mostly retired now and have been replaced by SEALy types as the flavor of the hour. No, the troops bring their attitudes from their upbringing. pl


Does this meet the 'blivet' standard?


'No, the troops bring their attitudes from their upbringing. pl '

Absolutely. And imho, attitudes detrimental to the objective should be weeded out.

robt willmann

Wow...what a surprise last night (30 August) in the little presentation by actor, writer,
movie director and producer, former mayor, and still-working Clint Eastwood! Here is
the good part, and it is during the imaginary conversation he is having with president
Obama, represented by an empty chair by the podium--

"I know you were against the war in Iraq, and that’s okay. But you thought the war in
Afghanistan was OK. You know, I mean -- you thought that was something that was
worth doing. We didn’t check with the Russians to see how they did there for the 10
But we did it, and it is something to be thought about, and I think that, when we get to
maybe -- I think you’ve mentioned something about having a target date for bringing
everybody home. You gave that target date, and I think Mr. Romney asked the only
sensible question, you know, he says, 'Why are you giving the date out now? Why don’t
you just bring them home tomorrow morning?'
And I thought -- I thought, yeah -- I am not going to shut up, it is my turn.
So anyway, we’re going to have -- we’re going to have to have a little chat about that...."


In the video of Eastwood's remarks, this part starts at about 3 minutes, 57 seconds into
it and goes to 5:10.

So here is Eastwood -- of the Italian "Spaghetti Western" movies (Hang 'Em High, A Fist
Full of Dollars, etc.) and then the popular "Dirty Harry" Callahan detective movies -- saying that being against the Iraq war was OK and that the Afghanistan war was not worth doing. I wonder if Mitt Romney will understand his hint that you (Romney) should "bring them home tomorrow morning" from Afghanistan?

Notice on the video the cheers in the Republican audience when he speaks of the mess in
Afghanistan. This most likely caused severe physiological reactions in the gaggle of
retreads from the Bush jr. administration who have been crowding around Romney, or,
more accurately, fastening themselves like leeches to him -- Dan Senor, John Bolton, Eric
Edelman, Michael Chertoff, former Minnesota senator Norm Coleman (who looked silly
when British politician George Galloway took him apart in a Senate appearance) , neocons, and so on, as is obvious.

And who is Alex Wong, described by the Washington Post newspaper as the person who
manages foreign policy and legal issues for the Romney campaign? Another article says
he is a 2007 Harvard Law School graduate and former associate attorney at the
Covington & Burling law firm, who is director of foreign, defense, and judicial policy--


This is not good news, as Mr. Wong seems not to have had experience in the effects of
law and policy on the real world, having apparently not represented people with little or
no money in divorce, child support, criminal, personal injury, landlord-tenant, and
financial or foreclosure cases. Nor does he appear to have been involved in a capital
murder death penalty case from beginning to verdict, which has been the ultimate
expression of State authority toward a person, until the Obama (and possibly Bush jr.)
administration's claim to be able to assassinate any U.S. person after only a secret
meeting to decide who to kill. With no apparent street criminal law experience, Mr. Wong
would not have dealt with both honest and lying police officers. He may not realize that
a foreign policy advisor or member of an intelligence agency or other government person
might try to con and deceive him all day long until the cows come home.

Along with, or instead of, the doubtlessly energetic Mr. Wong should Mitt Romney otherwise consider as his "director of foreign, defense, and judicial policy"? Who has survived and succeeded in the world of smiling double-dealing, accounting tricks, treachery, broken promises and contracts, financial shenanigans, and maneuvering lawyers that is the jungle called Hollywood?

Clint Eastwood, of course.


wow, chuck, you rock...thanks


Re: the troops get it from their upbringing.

This is definitely the case. This attitude is not limited to any section, political party, or social class. It exists, in different words, on both AM Talk Radio and the Op-Ed page of the NY Times.

This is not to say there are not various inflections in the attitude from region, political views, religious viewpoints, etc. The NY Times reader is likely to either view "the natives" as moderns-waiting-to-be-born, or as some species of noble savage; the Talk Radio guy is more likely to think of them as brown-skinned primitives foolishly resisting US-imported "liberty". But neither NYT Guy nor Talk Radio Guy will do the local people the justice of treating them as human beings, with all the flaws, complexities, and nobility thereof.

This requires a different worldview, one that seems to me to be hard to inculcate at any mass-level; perhaps GBs were destined to be a select breed from the start.


whence could these "collective thoughts, feelings and biases of the various US populations" possibly come?

surely not our schools, churches, commerce, media... & political conventions.



Colonel Aaron Bank designed the GBs in his own image. He was a cosmopolitan adventurer who was also a polyglot linguist. pl


I found Clint Eastwood to be rambling and making no sense at all. Hopefully he just had one or two drinks too many. If he truly believed that bringing the troops home from Afganistan now was the right way to go, why would he be speaking at the Republican convention. He also had a few bad words to say about lawyers, forgetting or not knowing that Rommney is also a lawyer.
I think that upbringing does make a difference when it comes to how we view cultures and people different from ourselves, but I think that peer pressure also influences how men and women in the military react.


Love the picture. That's Tattoine, isn't it?


"No number of "shake and bake" courses and classes given to soldiers on the subject of cultural sensitivity will change the collective mentality of men and women who think they have been sent to Afghanistan or wherever to "save" the natives from themselves."

That one statement so very much gets to the heart of the matter.

Abu Sinan

Dear Colonel,

You write "We were better off when working with "the natives' was left to those who enjoyed the work."

People like you sir. Thanks for your service, I wish we had more like you!

Babak Makkinejad


I think you are ignoring the much more mundane reason; the All-Volunteer Force.

In the absence of draft, certain personality types will be more dominant than others; for example, hyper-aggressive young men with a lot of sex hormone.

And so on and so forth.



Absolute crap. The usual anti-military nonsense from a man who is afraid of guns. pl



Well, it is "peer pressure" of the collectivity that they being from American society. The military as an instituition very much tries to ovrecome these biases. In many of them they fail. pl

Babak Makkinejad

I am just telling you what I have heard from others.



You hear a lot of nonsense "from others." Maybe you should not listen to those "others." pl

The beaver



"Some Romney advisers say Wong, a 32-year-old Harvard Law School graduate, has no practical foreign-policy experience beyond a 2005 summer internship at the U.S. Mission to the U.N."

Remember who was Ambassador of the US at the UN in Turtle Bay : John Bolton


From my experience, I agree with everything said. To others who have asked, I have described Afghanistan as "the moon" to give an idea of how different it was, while Iraq was a "funhouse mirror", where everything is warped the more you look at it.

Throw a nineteen or twenty year old PFC into that, where the mission objective goes from "search and destroy" to "hearts and minds" at the drop of a hat depending on the needs of whoever is running the show at CENTCOM, and you've got a mess. It does indeed take a special type of personality to exist inside these boundaries, let alone thrive.

No amount of "cultural sensitivity" classes, "realistic" role play scenarios, and threats from above are going to allow someone who doesn't want to do the work to succeed; instead you have kids who want to wear skull bandanas and baseball caps on patrol and pose with thier SAWs on facebook.

We are as alien to them as they are to us. I had a reminder of that when I was on patrol in a Kurdish enclave near Mosul. Walking down the street at night during October, I was wrapped up so that not a scrap of skin was showing, in full battle rattle with tanker goggles on. Some father pushed his son towards me, and the kid was losing his mind in that way only a child can with full throated terror of the cyborg walking towards him. I remember his face changing from terror to pure relief when I took off the goggles, lowered my neck gaiter, and he saw that I was as human as him. It is one of my better memories of that place.

Many of the troops thrust over there would miss the significance of that event, but c'est la vie.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

February 2020

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
Blog powered by Typepad