Thursday, July 01, 2010

General Petraeus has stooped to conquer.

He has been demoted or volunteered to step down from a higher CENTCOM to a lower theater command to head the US/NAT0 war in Afghanistan. Both are four-star billets, so to a civilian it is all the same; it is the same pay and perks are about the identical. But you sleep with the blood-in-you-eye Taliban at night in Afghanistan rather than with sybaritic charms of Tampa Bay at McDill AFB CENTCOM HQs.

To a military way of hierarchal thinking, there is difference in assignments that goes beyond a nuanced media spot light and date of rank--it is one of pecking order and prestige. Four-star generals are the elite of the US Army- -they run the army. Like bull elephants they settle ranking and status among themselves.

Unlike the McChrystal fiasco, doubts whether even a hippy" Rolling Stone" Reporter could penetrate the group's discreet iron curtain around their interrelationships. So where and how Petraeus fits into this august assembly is unknown, at this writing we do not even know who is the CENTCOM commander. Does Petraeus absurdly wear two hats or not?

While General MacArthur who said THERE WAS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR VICTORY, Petraeus only promises that the US will not lose. That is a big difference. Hence the protracted conflict or endless war policy he tenders.

He explains to a gullible public that counter insurgency is a roller coaster of ups and downs. Well general, this is a defense for failure.--the American people want to get off your ride. That is one important reason they elected Obama who apparently has booted this mandate in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Generals McChrystal and Petraeus are two peas in a pod. Though different in style and temperament, both are devout practioners of the counter insurgency/nation building religion. For whatever reason, the media and the administration embrace this hokum as a strategic panacea, despite the fact it never has worked. In Iraq, Petraeus bribed and armed The Sunnis which is at best a short term fix. His counter insurgency doctrine is repackaged Vietnam era "hearts and mind” with expensive nation building tossed in the mix. He has stated MONEY IS AMMUNITION.

McCain and GW Bush pushed propaganda that the surge worked. The neocons embellished the myth and applied it to Afghanistan. In November 2009 as Obama pondered strategy in Afghanistan, right wing neocons Kagan and Kristol wrote in THE WEEKLY STANDARD on McCrystal and Petraeus...

'McChrystal is an outstanding and battle-tested commander with a creative staff and extremely talented subordinates. And he is working for the architect of the Iraq surge, Gen. David Petraeus.

The political team, on the other hand, is weak. Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke and Amb. Karl Eikenberry has been ineffective and even counterproductive. The Obama administration recently relegated Holbrooke to a diminished role and assigning Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton the responsibility of formulating policy and working directly with Afghan President Hamid Karzai"

Enough said about the false virtues of McCrystal's potential; his career ended in disgrace. Since Petraeus and McChrystal were fused and his assignment endorsed by Petraeus, there is a chance that Petraeus was compelled to take a step down in command to compensate for his bad judgment on McChrystal. The other wonderous thing coming out of the relief of command saga is SECDEF Gates reportedly wanted to keep McChrystal, because of his pivotal role in Afghanistan. How long will Gates last with such flawed judgment?

One thing for certain is that as currenntly organized, the country team collective of Petraus, Holbrooke, Jones , Eikenberry and Hillary is dysfuctional--who is the boss? This is the same lack of unity of command that helped bring defeat in Vietnam.

As General Petreuus is reborn as our savior again, there is a certainy that he will not bring triumph--victory is not in his tool box--he,,however, might spin his way to a stalemate and call political accomodation "succees". President Obama would be delighted with this contortion of victory as the bodies returned home mount and the stench of corruption from nation building ovewhelms the White House.. Colonel Robert E Bartos USA Ret.


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