|Thoughts on the McChrystal Rolling Stone story... |
I finally had a chance to read the Rolling Stone story
on General Stan McCrystal this morning. One thing that
many people may not be aware of, is it's not an interview,
it's a "fly on the wall" profile story, with very few
direct quotes from McChrystal.
The article is very insightful and every American
regardless of their politics, or how they feel about
the war, should read it.
Here's a link to the full story and a few key points,
along with my comments.
This is my biggest takeaway and while it's not a direct
quote from McCrystal, he basically echoes the same point,
as do many others.
"The entire COIN (counter insurgency) strategy is a fraud
perpetuated on the American people. The idea that we are going
to spend a trillion dollars to reshape the culture of the
Islamic world is utter nonsense." Quote from retired Colonel
Douglas Macgregor, a leading critic of counterinsurgency who
attended West Point with McChrystal.
And here McChrystal's Chief of Staff expresses the same
sentiment, along with a growing realization that the final
outcome in Afghanistan is going to resemble Vietnam, more
than Desert Storm, and that "victory," may not be the right
word to describe the inevitable outcome...
"Today, as McChrystal gears up for an offensive in southern
Afghanistan, the prospects for any kind of success look bleak.
In June, the death toll for U.S. troops passed 1,000, and the
number of IEDs has doubled. Spending hundreds of billions of
dollars on the fifth-poorest country on earth has failed to
win over the civilian population, whose attitude toward U.S.
troops ranges from intensely wary to openly hostile.
The biggest military operation of the year – a ferocious
offensive that began in February to retake the southern town
of Marja – continues to drag on, prompting McChrystal himself
to refer to it as a "bleeding ulcer."
In June, Afghanistan officially outpaced Vietnam as the
longest war in American history – and Obama has quietly begun
to back away from the deadline he set for withdrawing U.S.
troops in July of next year. The president finds himself stuck
in something even more insane than a quagmire: a quagmire he
knowingly walked into, even though it's precisely the kind of
gigantic, mind-numbing, multigenerational nation-building
project he explicitly said he didn't want.
Even those who support McChrystal and his strategy of
counterinsurgency know that whatever the general manages
to accomplish in Afghanistan, it's going to look more like
Vietnam than Desert Storm.
"It's not going to look like a win, smell like a win or taste
like a win," says Maj. Gen. Bill Mayville, who serves as chief
of operations for McChrystal. "This is going to end in an argument."
An apparent flaw in our overall strategy appears to be a
weakness on the diplomatic front, as there is no clear
US diplomatic leader in charge of building new governmental
structures in Afghanistan. Even with progress on the military
front, the military cannot create governance reform. Obama
must address this flaw in US diplomatic strategy and someone
needs to be put in charge, instead of management by committee...
"While McChrystal and his men are in indisputable command of
all military aspects of the war, there is no equivalent
position on the diplomatic or political side.
Instead, an assortment of administration players compete over
the Afghan portfolio: U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry, Special
Representative to Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke, National
Security Advisor Jim Jones and Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton, not to mention 40 or so other coalition ambassadors
and a host of talking heads who try to insert themselves into
the mess, from John Kerry to John McCain.
This diplomatic incoherence has effectively allowed
McChrystal's team to call the shots and hampered efforts to
build a stable and credible government in Afghanistan.
"It jeopardizes the mission," says Stephen Biddle, a senior
fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations who supports
McChrystal. "The military cannot by itself create governance
In today's modern military, politics play an important part
in determining how high you rise within the military hierarchy.
McChrystal like many Generals, "polished up his inside game,"
spending a year at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government,
and also worked at the Council on Foreign Relations where
he wrote a CFR policy paper on "humanitarian interventionism."
Sadly, it appears that in today's military, if you've haven't
bought into the "one world - globalist view," and don't have
the blessing of the CFR and/or the Trilateralists, your career
isn't going anywhere fast.
The CFR has long had a virtual monopoly over US State
Department appointments as documented by both Professor
Carroll Quigley's "Tragedy & Hope," and Norman Dodd's work
with the Reece Committee (see G.Edward Griffin's interview
with Dodd by clicking here).
Today, it appears the CFR has as much influence within the
military, as they do within the State Department. Somehow,
someway, we need to change that. The first step would be
to elect someone who knows the problem exists, and only
Ron Paul has directly and publicly spoken to the influence
of the CIA and the CFR on US foreign policy. JFK told us
about the dangers of the CFR, the Trilateralists, and
the Bilderberg group and their secret meetings which
openly violate the Logan Act.
Of note, McChrystal survived two events that would have
stopped most officers dead in their career tracks. He was
involved with a prisoner abuse scandal at Camp Nama in Iraq,
and was involved with signing off on the cover up of Pat
Tilman's death by friendly fire.
McChrystal would never have survived those scandals unless
he had strong political support. It's not unfair to say that
he's where he is today, because he has the CFR's blessing.
And regarding the CFR , here's a possible political angle
that McChrystal may be playing...
In the article McChrystal blasts virtually the entire Obama
administration with one exception - Hillary Clinton.
My take? The CFR is unhappy with Obama and is positioning
Hillary for a 2012 run and McChrystal may have just taken
one for the team.
The article also touches on a very sensitive issue, a clear
Vietnam-esque, growing level of demoralization among the
troops. To his credit, McChrystal encourages and welcomes
open and honest dialogue from his soldiers. Here's an excerpt
from a meeting McChrystal held with his ground forces...
"One soldier shows me the list of new regulations the
platoon was given. "Patrol only in areas that you are
reasonably certain that you will not have to defend
yourselves with lethal force," the laminated card reads.
For a soldier who has traveled halfway around the world to
fight, that's like telling a cop he should only patrol in
areas where he knows he won't have to make arrests.
"Does that make any fucking sense?" asks Pfc. Jared Pautsch.
"We should just drop a fucking bomb on this place. You sit
and ask yourself: What are we doing here?"
The rules handed out here are not what McChrystal intended –
they've been distorted as they passed through the chain of
command – but knowing that does nothing to lessen the anger
of troops on the ground. "Fuck, when I came over here and
heard that McChrystal was in charge, I thought we would get
our fucking gun on," says Hicks, who has served three tours
of combat. "I get COIN. I get all that. McChrystal comes here,
explains it, it makes sense. But then he goes away on his
bird, and by the time his directives get passed down to us
through Big Army, they're all fucked up – either because
somebody is trying to cover their ass, or because they just
don't understand it themselves. But we're fucking losing
The session ends with no clapping, and no real resolution.
McChrystal may have sold President Obama on counterinsurgency,
but many of his own men aren't buying it.
Sadly, when the troops "no longer buy in," the end isn't
too far away. And the problem may lie within the counter-
insurgency strategy itself, and the imbalance, and lack
of coordination between military and diplomatic strategies
From the article...
"When it comes to Afghanistan, history is not on McChrystal's
side. The only foreign invader to have any success here was
Genghis Khan – and he wasn't hampered by things like human
rights, economic development and press scrutiny. The COIN
doctrine, bizarrely, draws inspiration from some of the
biggest Western military embarrassments in recent memory:
France's nasty war in Algeria (lost in 1962) and the American
misadventure in Vietnam (lost in 1975). McChrystal, like other
advocates of COIN, readily acknowledges that counterinsurgency
campaigns are inherently messy, expensive and easy to lose.
"Even Afghans are confused by Afghanistan," he says. But even
if he somehow manages to succeed, after years of bloody
fighting with Afghan kids who pose no threat to the U.S.
homeland, the war will do little to shut down Al Qaeda, which
has shifted its operations to Pakistan.
SOTB note: This quote says it all...
"Dispatching 150,000 troops to build new schools, roads,
mosques and water-treatment facilities around Kandahar is
like trying to stop the drug war in Mexico by occupying
Arkansas and building Baptist churches in Little Rock."
"It's all very cynical, politically," says Marc Sageman, a
former CIA case officer who has extensive experience in the
region. "Afghanistan is not in our vital interest – there's
nothing for us there."
Celeste Ward, a senior defense analyst at the RAND Corporation
who served as a political adviser to U.S. commanders in Iraq
in 2006. "That's the game we're in right now. What we need,
for strategic purposes, is to create the perception that we
didn't get run off."
3-tour trooper: "...by the time his (McChrystal's)
directives get passed down to us through Big Army, they're
all fucked up – either because somebody is trying to cover
their ass, or because they just don't understand it themselves.
But we're fucking losing this thing."
CIA Case Officer: "There's nothing for us there."
Rand Corp Strategist: "...we need to create the
perception we didn't get run off."
Professional soldiers sign up to fight whatever war is
handed to them by our politicians. Sadly, they're often
given impossible tasks.
It's beginning to sound a lot like Vietnam isn't it?