More Afghanistan

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More Afghanistan

Postby David Yun on Fri Jun 25, 2010 11:31 am

I want to preface this post with the observation that the United States has presided over the most extensive global peace (exempting Africa) that the world has ever seen. The reason I note this is that this "Pax Americana" reminds me of the previous Roman version. Politics invariably get muddy and emperors feel the need to recall generals that they feel threatened by, ultimately harming the goals of the state.

President Obama relieved General McChrystal as the military commander in Afghanistan, replacing him with General Patreus. He was dismissed for criticism given during a magazine interview.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/world/us_and_canada/10395402.stm

The various comments were definitely ill advised, and a general definitely should have known better than to upset the chain of command. He clearly screwed up. But firing him, and disrupting operations at the highest level by bringing in someone else? Bleh. (Note: I do respect Patreus; if he ever ran for office, I'd be strongly inclined to vote for him.) If I were President (I know, easy for me to say), I would admonish McChrystal, force a public apology, and leave him be to finish the job he started. Instead, I think President Obama feels threatened and insecure about how this mild insubordination is publicly received. Or his ego can't take it. Or he couldn't quash his people who demanded McChrystal's head. Something. I wish he were stronger; I think the massive pressures of the Presidency during these uncertain and contentious times are straining him. I mean, he never struck me as anything but confident until this year.

The President IS the commander-in-chief and the rank ought to be respected. However, a politician shouldn't interfere in military operations. With the aid of intelligent advisers, the President should lay out a grand strategy, and assign his most capable underlings to pursue the logistics of bringing it to fruition. Sure, events will occur that require the attention of the highest station, but for the most part, his people ought to have the authority and latitude to do their job. Strategic necessities have greater importance over political discomforts.
"I want me some glory hole." --Jerry Jones
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Re: More Afghanistan

Postby trebuchet on Sun Jun 27, 2010 9:21 am

It's unfortunate that a general has to undergo such public scrutiny, but it is a reality of his station in these politically uncertain times. In an ideal world our generals would be free to win a war in the most militarily effective way possible without interference from politicians a million miles away from the conflict. In an ideal world the commander-in-chief of U.S. forces would entrust the execution of his policies to the "man on the ground" and never, ever, second guess him or give him cause to question his commander-in-chief's support. And, ideally, every war that the U.S. is involved in would have clear and attainable military objectives. Things are a lot more muddled, it would seem.

Generals, throughout American history, have had grievances with their presidents. It's the ones that make their grievances public that get the ax in the end. This is a proud American tradition, in that it touches on our ideals of a national identity that is most emphatically not forged by "whoever controls the army controls the country" but by dedicated civil service. The concept of checks and balances is sacrosanct in this country and no one, not even a militarily sound general, can even voice his opinion on any member of that holy triumvirate. Americans only have to consider the never-ending cycles of revolution, counter-revolution ad infinitum in many 3rd world countries and we begin to nod our heads with Obama's decision on the matter. Right or wrong, I believe this observation has merit.

Was McChrystal going to become "Generalissimo" and turn America into his own private game of Tropico? It would be absurd to think so. But for a country with a proud history of setting good precedents for civil service, one can't help but wonder, if President Obama hadn't wrangled him in would history view his inaction as a kind of "watershed" moment for the fall of the Republic? Not likely, given the herd-like nature of Americans today. I seriously doubt anyone would lift a finger, let alone start a popular uprising over political philosophy. As long as Mr. and Mrs. America can get their overpriced coffee and keep tabs on their douche-bag friends on their Friends and Family plans not a soul would notice if an open dictator were to take power. I have a suspicion that many would feel relieved that the burden/nuisance of voting had come to an end.

But I digress. The real problems I have with this whole situation are these: 1) What the fuck is McChrystal doing giving Rolling Stone Magazine such unprecedented access to himself and his senior staff? He may be a black ops badass but he has no mind to navigate the political mantraps of the real world 2) he carried so much baggage coming into Afghanistan, what with the cover-up story of the Tillman incident and his connections to prisoner abuse, that he was a reporter's wet dream waiting to happen 3) he has many qualities that are to be admired - his tenacity in routing out insurgents, his desire for straight talk with his staff - but none of that matters because he can't play the political game with his peers for shit 4) McChrystal's handlers failed him because he needed someone, preferably a military peer, who could smooth those ruffled feathers for him (Schwarzkopf was hated but people followed his lead in large part because of what Powell was doing for him behind the scenes) 5) there are too many would-be chiefs and not enough Indians - the political attache in Afghanistan needs get its fucking act together before they're maneuvering for the last seat on the last chopper out.

More later. I'm really tired right now. Must...sleep...zzzzzzzz
"Dillon! You son of a bitch."
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