Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Can the Lot of Them

How is it that a United States president who just won the Nobel Peace Prize is having such a tough time telling one of his generals that he doesn’t want to escalate a war that doesn’t enhance America’s national security?

Pouring more blood and national treasure into Afghanistan won’t do a thing for us, and it won’t do a thing for Afghans either. The Hamad Karzai regime we continue to prop up is more malevolent than the Taliban regime we replaced it with. Now, our war mafia argues, if we don’t stay the course in Afghanistan, things might get worse. Or they might not. Even Gen. David Petraeus weasel-worded his recommendation of Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s request for additional troops. "I don't think anyone can guarantee that it will work out even if we apply a lot more resources. But it won't work out if we don't," Petraeus said.

Nothing we do in Afghanistan will work out. The more troops we stick in there the harder it will be to leave. U.S. Army logisticians are waxing woebegone about how difficult it is getting 20,000 troops out of Iraq. How are they going to get the other 110,000 out of there, with 110,000 expensive crowbars?

The numbers of additional troops being called for in Iraq exceeds 60,000. This supposedly will keep us safer from an al-Qaeda that National Security Adviser James Jones admits has fewer than 100 core fighters. They’re not exactly Hitler’s Wehrmacht.

They’re not exactly in Afghanistan, either. Even the Taliban—who are really a just a sideshow in this carnival—aren’t in Afghanistan either. They’re pulling their latest deadly shenanigans in Pakistan, where they’re proving that Pakistan’s security apparatus is as feckless as the Afghan forces are.

Obama’s Nobel Prize may not be enough leverage to keep him from going slut mutt for his generals’ demands. Lindsay Graham, whose comprehension of foreign policy and the art of war under-cedes that of his hawkish bedfellows John McCain, John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, Ike Skelton and Joe Lieberman, says anything short of the acceding to McChrystal’s demands will lead to failure. That gives you a perfect idea of the mentality of the war mob. “Failure” was a buzzword in McChrystal’s leaked analysis of the Afghanistan situation, crafted by the likes of neocon Fred Kagan, who brought us our insensible quagmire in Iraq.

Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell says, “the smart thing to do here is to listen to Gen. Petraeus and Gen. McChrystal.” That’s the dumbest thing Obama and the rest of us could possibly do. Petraeus and McChrystal are Douglas MacArthur-class military careerist who, like MacArthur, couldn’t win a war to save their dugouts, and whose sense of theater far surpasses their understanding of the art of war. Clausewitz and Sun Tzu must be kicking at their coffin lids at the way we continue to squander the might we have accumulated. Thanks to the malignant influence of the neoconservative mob, we have managed to tinkle away in the New American Century we have managed to build up in the American centuries that came before it.

As Professor Andrew Bacevich accurately asserts in an Oct. 11 op-ed piece for the Boston Globe, “No serious person thinks that Afghanistan—remote, impoverished, barely qualifying as a nation-state—seriously matters to the United States.”

Bacevich, a retired Army colonel who served in the Vietnam War, also notes: “If the president assents to McChrystal’s request, he will void his promise of change at least so far as national security policy is concerned. The Afghanistan war will continue until the end of his first term and probably beyond. It will consume hundreds of billions of dollars. It will result in hundreds or perhaps thousands more American combat deaths—costs that the hawks are loath to acknowledge.”

Probably America’s leading anti-war conservative, Bacevich also notes that “As the fighting drags on from one year to the next, the engagement of US forces in armed nation-building projects in distant lands will become the new normalcy.”

That’s precisely the paradigm the long war mafia wants to create, an eternal Orwellian global conflict that doesn’t directly affect day-to-day life in America but keeps the economy from focusing on internal issues like health care, infrastructure and education. As Bacevich puts it, “That ‘keeping Americans safe’ obliges the United States to seek, maintain, and exploit unambiguous military supremacy will become utterly uncontroversial.”

Bacevich is right. If Obama, the merchant of change, can’t stand up to the military-industrial-congressional complex, nobody will ever be able to.

Obama needs to ashcan his foreign policy team, starting with Bob Gates and Hillary Clinton and his four-stars Petraeus, McChrystal, Mike Mullen and Ray Odierno.

Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes at Pen and Sword. Jeff's novel Bathtub Admirals (Kunati Books), a lampoon on America's rise to global dominance, is on sale now.


  1. Cmdr. Huber,
    Once again, you are 100% correct. As an old former Marine/Vietnam vet, all I can say now is that I am damn happy that I don't have any kids. If I did, I'd break their knee caps. Anything to keep them from going to these fool wars of choice. I did that and one fool generation is more than enough.
    The entire goal of the military mafia, as you call them, is to have a continuous war, endless wars. Of course they will be wars of choice. Choice profits for the gang who always gets rich from the bleeding and dying of others. The biggest war lovers have, for the most part, never even worn the uniform of any military. Let alone fought in any wars.
    Go-bomb-them needs to find or grow a decent set and soon. Enough of all this endless war.
    semper fi

  2. Thanks, Charlie.


  3. I find it frustrating that President Obama seems to not understand that flag officers, in their arrogance, think they run the country. I want to know why he hasn't beheaded the Pentagon, and make it clear that he is Commander in Chief, Any more "leaks" from any general or flag officer (yes, I'm looking at you, Adm. Mullen) will be out on the street immediately for insubordination, and face an Article 32 hearing for violation of orders.

    This is where the community organizer, who had to juggle a lot of differing opinions on where to put resources in an equitable fashion that would irritate the least number of community members, is at a serious disadvantage. He's a good man. But, he's trying to convince a bunch of lampreys to not eat the salmon. Mr. President, you must cut 'em off at the knees.

    President Obama should have called Gates on the carpet, told him to fire McCrystal, Petraeus, and Mullen and their entire staffs. Make it clear to the military-industrial complex that employing any of the aforementioned staffers (and to Flatulent Noise Channel) that no Pentagon contracts (or press credentials), period, for the term of said employment will be forthcoming. Campaign actively, with widespread dissemination of information on their bribes (a/k/a campaign contributions) from said industry against any Congress member who tries to interfere in an executive branch decision on these matters.

    None of these clowns are a MacArthur. President Obama isn't Truman (or FDR for that matter - but aspiration to their mantle is a good ideal), but for a sworn military officer to violate his oath (anyone remember Oliver North?) is supremely contemptible. I have a cousin who retired from the NG prior to the Iraq adventure, and our discussions on the change in the officer corps, even in the Guard, were eye opening.

    Unfortunately, President Obama is going to have to assert his authority over the generals, and do so in a brutal fashion that probably is foreign to his nature and instincts. But, it is necessary.

  4. I would hope he regrets the "war of necessity" label. If he can't say he was mistaken and call for the orderly removal of US forces, he will have missed a crucial opportunity to change our foreign policy and sacrificed his credibility.

  5. Charlie Ehlen's comment above and Andrew Bacevitch's article both pointed out that some young people today can't remember a time when a war wasn't going on. Some of those fighting and dying today were ten years old when the WTC towers were hit. And Afghans had nothing to do with that except that they had hoodlums living in the neighbourhood.

    Kelly Vlahos over at Antiwar.com said that Lara Logan is the latest spokesmodel for the war. She is what a lot of people I know call a war witch (or perhaps another "w" word that rhymes a little better). She also points out that both Logan and her recently-stolen-from-somebody-else husband make megabucks out of endless conflict - she as an embedded reporter (in more ways than one) and her husband as a war contractor. No conflict of interest there.

    When the Marine "surge" happened in Afghanistan not long ago, one CBC woman reporter declared with barely disguised lust, "The Ma-RINES have LANDED!".

    It was so embarrassing that I felt I should advise her to get a room, even if she was by herself.

    Andrew Bacevich's grief is carved into his face although he never mentions his dead son. That grief is repeated on thousands and thousands of faces all over the U.S. and other countries involved in these wars.

    I also heard that the Pentagon are really, really jonesing after that bunker-buster bomb for Iran, pushing for a acceleration of its development.

    Time to pull the plug on the Pentagon, lock the doors, and lock up the warmongers.

    It's sick.

  6. I become a bigger fan of Bacevich by the day.


  7. Fil, do you have a link for that bunker-buster issue?

  8. Lavrenti Beria11:54 AM

    "How is it that a United States president who just won the Nobel Peace Prize is having such a tough time telling one of his generals that he doesn’t want to escalate a war that doesn’t enhance America’s national security?"

    Maybe because he wants to escalate a war that doesn't enhance America's national security and doesn't have an internet commentariat that grasps that? I mean, really, with the benefit of the doubt. If it looks like a duck and, particularly, if it walks like a duck ...

  9. Speaking of Sunzi, reminds me of the ole “There is no instance of a country having benefited from prolonged warfare.”

  10. Anonymous10:57 PM

    I agree with Col. Bacevich the country is held hostage by well funded, skimming from war profits perpetual war militarists.

    The militarists who brough the US 12 years of Vietnam were the reasonthe US military sank to serious lows in morale and public image in 1975.

    The same is likely to occur as these current quagmires sink the US economy.

    Time for action!


  11. Anonymous11:04 PM

    Bacevich and others know what this is all about. Endless wars for money and the perps don't risk a damn thing!

    Cdr., I admire the manner in which you euphemize(sic?) old military sayings in such 'clean' fashion. Your restraint is to be commended!

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