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View Diary: Petraeus-Gate: The Government's Story Continues to "Evolve" (44 comments)

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  •  Thanks for the article. (10+ / 0-)

    Petraeus is an odd bird in several ways. Jesselyn Raddack referred to him yesterday in the conventional way as one of the nation's "most decorated officers", which is a little strange in that, as far as I can see from his record, he was never personally in combat - no Vietnam, Beirut, Grenada, Panama, Gulf War I, or Bosnia. (If that's wrong, I'd be interested in hearing where and when he was personally in harm's way.) All the fruit salad seems to be for training and rear-echelon administrative accomplishments until of course he was at least in war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan. Wesley Clark and Colin Powell did lead platoons in combat in Vietnam, in contrast, and of course we all know about John Kerry ...

    Juan Cole has a good read on Petraeus, whom he blames for bullying Obama into the Afghanistan search and misreading the earlier Iraq surge (which owed more to buying off Sunnis to disarm and then be ethnically cleansed by the Shiites than anything we did directly). Cole points out that as DCI Petraeus would be evaluating his own plans and performance in Afghanistan, and there's an obvious conflict of interest in that. I thought there might be something to the speculation that Obama stuck Petraeus with Afghanistan to cut him down to size, and progressives can be grateful that he's been Edwards-Spitzered - he loomed way too much as a latter-day Douglas MacArthur, another one where there was less than met the eye, and he would have been a very strong GOP candidate in 2016.

    Then let us learn our range: we are something but we are not everything - Pascal

    by jlb1972 on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 09:27:40 AM PST

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    •  Thank you for your comment. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NonnyO

      That would make a great diary, if you have the time.  I learned a lot from your comment, or I did know it at one time and you reminded me.  Thanks again.

      •  Why thanks! (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        teknohed, greenbird, NonnyO, gooderservice

        I don't really have the time right now to do this justice, and like you depend on an imperfect memory, so I would recommend again the Juan Cole piece from yesterday on Petraeus and some of the comments there.

        The basic idea is that the 2007 Iraq surge was said in the US  to have worked because - contra the Rumsfeld doctrine - we committed huge numbers of troops and thus "kept the peace" through presence of force. What really seems to have worked then (and Cole discusses this) was that the US bribed Sunni groups to disarm but then allowed them to be ethnically cleansed by the more numerous Shiites. The resulting ethnic cleansing is against international law (or at least norms) and was horrendous but lowered the violence enough for Americans to put Iraq out of mind before the election (that Obama was unable to get Iraq to re-negotiate Bush's Status of Forces agreement to withdraw US troops also helped - Iraq stood firm on the issue of immunity for US troops accused of crimes, and the right wing holds US immunity sacred so there wasn't much they could say about it).

        Anyway, the speculation I've heard is that Obama may have forced Petraeus into responsibility for Afghanistan in part to make him carry the weight of an unworkable situation and thus, when it proved unworkable, weaken him for what looked like the inevitable Man-On-Horseback Presidential bid in 2016. If that really is true, then progressives (and, IMO, all Americans) owe Obama a significant debt.

        (The role of the FBI in this is fascinating too, in that it looks very much like the Louis Freeh-era FBI takedown of Bill Clinton, only this time cutting the other way, maybe by accident - history has many cunning corridors, said T.S. Eliot ...)

        Juan Cole stresses the point that Petraeus wrote the counterinsurgency book for the US Army, with the terrain-based formula of Take-Clear-Hold-Build.  The rub is the Build part, where Afghanistan as Cole notes is extraordinarily resistant to outsiders "Building" anything. And if you can't Build, the rest of the operational "successes" are pointless. Cole doesn't say this, but a big problem with "counterinsurgency doctrine" is that there has been a grand total of one successful instance of it in modern history, the 50's/60's British effort in Malaysia (now Malaya). And that was sui generis, in that the Malaysia insurgents were part of a disliked Chinese ethnic minority. In no other cases has this been true, and in no other cases have there been successes. The upshot seems to be that if you find yourself fighting a counterinsurgency, you better think hard about whether this will be cost-effective in some other way than military or political victory.

        Then let us learn our range: we are something but we are not everything - Pascal

        by jlb1972 on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 11:29:05 AM PST

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    •  where was he shot in combat as reported in the (0+ / 0-)

      book and the Stewart interview?

    •  Please diary this - great analysis nt (4+ / 0-)

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