Tuesday, June 22, 2010

War and Generals

My first thought regarding the McChrystal article in Rolling Stone, was it sounded like his venting his dislike of not being respected enough. McChyrstal is and has always apparently been a loose cannon; so no surprise. My second was this may not be as casual an event as it seems. My third made me reassess the first two. That's the problem with politics.

What it seems on the surface is that a general just said too much around a reporter. They were words that were disrespectful of the president and most of the team for whom McChrystal works. He was quickly apologizing, but it won't be unexpected if the decision is made that he has to go. Some will find fault with Obama whatever he ends up deciding on that.

My second thought is a little more suspicious. You know, what McChrystal said was exactly what tea party types want to hear. That kind of interview confirms to them that he is one of them. *conspiracy music please* It suits their thinking of the president and anybody connected with him. Perhaps McChrystal is actually lining himself (or being lined) up for a different position.

I guess only time will tell what the real purpose was behind this interview, why he let out what he did, why the reporter covered it as he did, whether someone else is involved, but there are those who want a revolution in this country and I don't mean at the ballot box. In other countries it's not uncommon for generals to stage coups. Are we immune to that? *more conspiracy music*

My thinking became more complicated after actually reading the article, 

which led to third thought about the whole thing (likewise surprisingly leading to more respect for McChrystal). McChrystal is clearly caught in the problem of doing something that likely has no win written at the end. I gotta say though this guy definitely would make for an interesting hero in a book. I can see Bruce Willis playing him in the screen version already. They can call it Loose Cannon.

The problem with war today (or maybe anytime) is it's more political than logical and it doesn't lend itself well to heroes-- anti or otherwise. I don't see that our goals in Afghanistan are clearly laid out. Obama said it was about taking out al Qaeda but most of them are in Pakistan or around the world. You can't fight al Qaeda like a war against a nation. There is no there there to fight.

Some want us to turn Afghanistan into a different kind of country than it always has been.
It isn't likely to change its ways after all these years and especially not at the point of a gun. I am not sure what the Rolling Stone author hoped to achieve but he sure stirred up a lot. The general intended to have said exactly what appeared in the article as he was asked to read it before publication for fact checking. We can ask what his motive was and I can think of several possibilities but have no way of knowing which might be true.

The consequences from this might not be ended whatever Obama decides about the general and Afghanistan.

[Update: From what I hear, Obama did relieve McChrystal of his command. Some say it was inevitable. I do not know but just seems unfortunate all the way around to me. I hope whatever it means for Afghanistan, that somehow this works out for those people in a way that ends what they have been going through. I also feel full sympathy for our soldiers who have been fighting endless wars with little or no relief in sight.

The thing is I do not believe we can make Afghanistan into what we might wish. There is just so much going on there on many levels. The people will have to decide they want something different and I don't think we can prove what they want at this point. Some actually support the Taliban and the more they see us as an invader, not a liberator, the more they will turn that way.

Petraeus is a good choice, maybe the only choice to take it over. We are sure asking a lot of our military though...]


mandt said...

One thought: McCrystal is a specialist in black opps assignation, indifferent to collateral civilian damage and knows Afghanistan is a sure loser. There is simply no way any one has ever, or will ever conquer or occupy that country for long. Several thousands of years testify to that, and the best of the best have tried. McCrystal's contempt for the Obama administration is evident and for some of us, fully justified. However the man is a right wing extremist and positioning himself for civilian leadership. As for Petreus he will do well in Afghanistan by employing the old Roman strategy of bribing everybody and their mother, so we will have a temporary cool down and when we withdraw (more or less) The country will be even more well armed for civil war and the Taliban will return victorious.

Kay Dennison said...

The problems in Afghanistan pre-date today's debacle by centuries. The country is practically in the Stone Age culturally and even the Russians gave it up as a bad job after 12 years there which tells me we will accomplish nothing and are wasting time, money and, most importantly lives.

As to McChrystal, I decry his blatant disrespect for his Commander-in-Chief. Obviously, there's an agenda there of which we ordinary mortals aren't informed. I'm guessing it's something I won't like one iota but that's pretty typical of my feelings these days when it comes to politic. Am I disenchanted? Damned right I am.

Parapluie said...

I hear there is no change in policy with the change in generals. But in wars, I am not sure what to believe. I keep hoping for some brillance occuring behind the scenes in our current executive branch.
I know Obama is a smart man even if what we hear sounds as though he is a puppet to the old war thinking.
Today he asked the Russian President if he had any advise. Though the russian declined, it is obvious what he would say. "Leave"

Ingineer66 said...

Today's news is that Patreaus may change the Rules of Engagement back to where our boys can defend themselves better. That would be a good thing. Trying to fight a war with one hand tied behind your back is tough, but fighting it with both hands tied is really tough and that is what we have been doing for the past year.