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View Diary: The Joint Chiefs: Please Cut the Military Budget (69 comments)

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  •  Oh, he's a foreign policy realist (17+ / 0-)

    who argues, for example, that torturing Muslims isn't good for American national security and links the U.S. relationship with Israel to American national security -- linkage that Petraeus has made and that the AIPAC crowd strenuously rejects. (To be clear, I'm not a Petraeus fan at all, only making the point that you made, that military men at least see up close and personal the effects of policy decisions.)

    •  Most generals are at least a little bit historians (14+ / 0-)

      Reviews of past battles and campaigns is a big part of their education.

      So names like "Custer" resonate. If you underestimate your opponent, your ass will be handed to you. And there's no way to really hate, e.g., Al Qaeda and still respect them as opponents.

      You can find some generals running around running their mouths who don't seem to respect Muslims. I predict they will not wind up in charge of anything important.

      In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice; but in practice, there always is a difference. - Yogi Berra

      by blue aardvark on Tue Apr 26, 2011 at 10:30:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Walt is pretty damn smart (5+ / 0-)

      and I've been reading his blog a lot lately.  Here's a choice quote from a piece last week titled "The intervention paradox":

      .....intervening powers try to use as little force as possible, and seek to minimize their own casualties above all. After all, when there are no vital interests at stake, it is much harder to justify the loss of one's own soldiers. So they rely on airpower, not boots on the ground.  They'll send advisors and weapons, but not their own troops. But because the rebel army is a ramshackle operation, and because there are real limits to what NATO can achieve with airpower alone, this minimalist approach is more likely to produce a costly stalemate in which more Libyans die. Even if it eventually succeeds, going in small prolongs the fighting and does more damage to the people we are supposedly helping.

      The other option, of course, is to use overwhelming force from the very beginning. Qaddafi's loyal forces might be effective against a poorly-trained rebel army, but they would be no match for a sizeable NATO force. But this isn't really the answer either, even if we had such forces readily available (and remember, the United States is already bogged down in other places). For one thing, doing it this way is a lot more expensive, and you're likely to lose some of your own people along the way. And once you've ousted the regime you own the country, and trying to put a society like Libya back together again would not be easy or cheap (see under: Iraq, Afghanistan). Given the divisions that are already apparent among the rebels themselves, and the absence of well-functioning social and political institutions, a post-Qaddafi Libya is likely to be a real headache. And there's always the risk that an insurgency will spring up, further inflating the costs.

      Hence the paradox: if you go in light you get a protracted stalemate; if you go in big you end up with a costly quagmire.

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