Wednesday, June 23, 2010

McChrystal balls

Stan McChrystal has some justification for discontent inasmuch as to what he is expected to accomplish. However, he conducted a fairly serious breach of military protocol and regulation by speaking out as he did. Both sides here have a conundrum.....the left will be torn between Obama firing his own appointee as ISAF Commander and appearing weak in deference to the military, reinforcing a common myth. The right never wants to miss an opportunity to excoriate a Democratic Administration, but has it's lineage of dogmatic fealty to the military establishment, reinforcing a common myth that the Republican Party is more supportive of the military.

I wouldn't be at all surprised to learn that the article was an exercise in self-sabotage. McChrystal is in an unenviable position. There is virtually no hope that a military victory can occur in Afghanistan for a long list of reasons spelled out in various other topics. He would be the scapegoat of the eventual withdrawal without 'winning'. He can then pursue more lucrative avenues, such a Military Analyst on Fox News.....

Now, in the short attention span theater, critics will point to Obama not providing all of the forces that McChrystal had asked for, as justification and deification. They will uniformly forget that Bush failed to provide the requisite forces that McKeirnan had asked for some years ago.

The major problem in Afghanistan is that we're fighting insurgents rather than terrorists....and the recent ISAF directive from McChrystal concerning the Afghan 'surge' didn't even mention terrorism. I drove from Fort Bragg back to Virginia yesterday and had the dubious opportunity to listen to Beck, Wilkow and Hannity on the trip [not to worry, I'll be showering it all off soon]....and the general consensus from this trio was that Obama has not been 'engaged' in the 'war on terror' and in Af-Pak. Strange considering that Obama has merely continued Bush's strategy other than vastly increasing SOCOM presence and drone strikes in Pakistan.

McChrystal's Marjah offensive complete with 'government-in-a-box' has been an abject failure, and the Kandahar campaign is essentially on hold. As I opined previously, I wouldn't be surprised if Stan the Man is orchestrating his exit on his own terms. 

Naming Petraeus as his replacement is rather CENTCOM Commander, Petraeus is McChrystal's supervisor. Taking personal command of a theater within a Commander's Area of Operations may be unprecedented when two theaters are simultaneously active. Although I think Petraeus stepping down a level is rather peculiar......I suppose it's as close to a home run as Obama could get with this mini-crisis. Petraeus is a darling of the right and feted by the media, largely for the perception that his strategy achieved some modicum of success in Iraq. The chance to garner another feather in his cap for a future political aspiration would be hard to pass up. Of course time will tell if he'll continue to think that was a good he oversees a possible Saigon rooftop evacuation of Kabul.

I'm left wondering now if King David will wear CENTCOM/COMISAF hats or if there will be a new boss in Tampa....and if so, how the dynamics will play out between Petraeus and his new supervisor.

Monday, June 21, 2010

No posting for awhile

I haven't written lately, due to many things....first and foremost being my Grandfather's turn for the worst battling Mesothelioma.

That battle ended this weekend. I apologize for my absence both lately and in the near future.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Common sense and Israel....compatible?

I finally found somebody who puts my thoughts into print better than I can. The American Security Project's Dr Bernard Finel writes about Egypt's decision to keep the border with Gaza open permanently:

I am not sure if there is something in common between American and Israeli politics that leads to an inability to think strategically, but here is a nice example of what happens when you elevate tactics over strategy.

So, the raid was necessary to enforce the blockade, but the raid caused the blockade to collapse. But the blockade in any case was a means to the end of weakening Hamas, and instead was strengthening it and now have given them yet another major victory.

The point isn’t that Israel is fundamentally in the wrong vis-a-vis Hamas. Hamas remains committed to the destruction of Israel and it has not demonstrated restraint, and certainly asking Israel to either trust or negotiate with Hamas is problematic. But that isn’t the point. The point is that nothing Israel is doing is either weakening Hamas nor strengthening their own position. The problem isn’t Israel’s goal, per se, but rather that it is incompetent in the pursuit of its own national interest, and that this incompetence is have negative repercussions on the United States as well.

Being in sympathy with someones goals does not mean you have to be supportive of every half-baked scheme they come up with.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Obstinate Ignorance of Teabaggers

A couple of quotes from the Founding Fathers that they so often like to emulate, but fail to appreciate:

In no part of the constitution is more wisdom to be found, than in the clause which confides the question of war or peace to the legislature, and not to the executive department. Beside the objection to such a mixture to heterogeneous powers, the trust and the temptation would be too great for any one man; not such as nature may offer as the prodigy of many centuries, but such as may be expected in the ordinary successions of magistracy. War is in fact the true nurse of executive aggrandizement. In war, a physical force is to be created; and it is the executive will, which is to direct it. In war, the public treasures are to be unlocked; and it is the executive hand which is to dispense them. In war, the honours and emoluments of office are to be multiplied; and it is the executive patronage under which they are to be enjoyed. It is in war, finally, that laurels are to be gathered, and it is the executive brow they are to encircle. The strongest passions and most dangerous weaknesses of the human breast; ambition, avarice, vanity, the honourable or venial love of fame, are all in conspiracy against the desire and duty of peace. - James Madison

In time of actual war, great discretionary powers are constantly given to the Executive Magistrate. Constant apprehension of War, has the same tendency to render the head too large for the body. A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defence agst. foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home. Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended. Throughout all Europe, the armies kept up under the pretext of defending, have enslaved the people. - James Madison

While, then, every part of our country thus feels an immediate and particular interest in union, all the parts combined cannot fail to find in the united mass of means and efforts greater strength, greater resource, proportionably greater security from external danger, a less frequent interruption of their peace by foreign nations; and, what is of inestimable value, they must derive from union an exemption from those broils and wars between themselves, which so frequently afflict neighboring countries not tied together by the same governments, which their own rival ships alone would be sufficient to produce, but which opposite foreign alliances, attachments, and intrigues would stimulate and embitter. Hence, likewise, they will avoid the necessity of those overgrown military establishments which, under any form of government, are inauspicious to liberty, and which are to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty. In this sense it is that your union ought to be considered as a main prop of your liberty, and that the love of the one ought to endear to you the preservation of the other. - George Washington

An Amusing Truth

Just An Earth-Bound Misfit speaks an eloquent truth:

I am rather amused by the fact that the only time conservatives seem to give a flying fuck about the Constitution is when there is a Democrat sitting in the Oval Office.

It is beyond obvious to point out that there was no interest whatsoever among the vast majority of conservatives for the preservation of our rights and liberties when the Darth and Chimpy Administration was in power. Far from it, every time that those bastards used the Constitution as toilet paper...

...the conservatives cheered them on. More than that, the conservatives scorned people who were concerned about civil rights and civil liberties as being "unpatriotic" and "disloyal" and "terrorist sympathizers".

But now, only now, with a Democrat sitting in the White House who has some small interest in doing things other than killing people and running up the deficit by giving more tax breaks to the rich while we are in a couple of wars, only now do those self-styled patriots on the Right start to show any concern about preserving the Constitution.

Color me "unimpressed." For once a Republican is again in the White House, we will hear no more from any of these people about the importance of the Constitution

Israeli Chutzpah

Once again we find ourselves confronted with the obligatory "if you're not a slavish sycophant to the greatness of Israel" you're an anti-semite. A mutated combination of Godwin's Law and 'my country, right or wrong'.......and the bane of any intellectual discourse regarding Middle East policy. The 'freedom flotilla' event raises a tricky question for three [possibly more] reasons. The first is the legality of Israel blockading Gaza and the second is that the event took place in international waters and thirdly, at least the main ship in question was a Turkish flagged ship. Depending upon how one wishes to interpret the San Remo Manual on International Law Applicable to Armed Conflicts at Sea in light of the two aforementioned issues, Israel may or may not have been acting in accordance with international law.

Now if you were on a ship in international waters, violating a possibly illegal blockade, and defended a forced and hostile entry upon your ship....could you not be perceived as acting in your self defense?

Israel which is the undisputed military superpower of the region; Israel who treats American support as if it were their birthright. Israel who's American myrmidons lambast anyone not sufficiently supportive as anti-semite. I'm not even against Israel preventing weapons from entering Gaza, per se. Israel preventing humanitarian items and common goods is another matter entirely.

Neither side should be awarded the assumption of truth and righteousness, but to proclaim the aid convoy as an aggressive move is a stretch, even for propagandists.

Though the Palestinians are no better at coming to an amicable compromise.......Israel habitually is just as obstinate and meets minor threats with overwhelming response, thus only exacerbating and perpetuating the conflict.If Hamas and Hezbollah were fervently intent on annihilating Israel, they would have made the attempt and perished in the process. The only comparison now is a feeble attempt at death by a thousand paper cuts. The rhetoric spouted by these groups is intended for their own people; it is an attempt at face saving and internal incitement-for-support.

I'm continually amazed at how sheep are so easily led by the nose. The same effect occurs in our own country in regards to terrorism: the threat becomes a defining political force, yet the threat is always insanely disproportionate to reality. Hamas has as much chance at annihilating Israel as Al Qaeda has establishing Sha'ria law in the US. Hamas and Hezbollah have already started down the path taken by other terrorist/insurgent/guerrilla groups......politics. They are starting to realize that the ballot box is a stronger means to an end than the cartridge box. The calls for annihilation of Israel are intended for their ignorant masses just as scaremongering of terrorism is intended for our own lemmings.

This does not mean capitulation in the meantime, it means that vulgar rhetoric and disproportionate retaliation by the forces which are theoretically supporting democracy, only prolongs the eventual process - taking needless lives on all sides.

Poetic sweetness from the Rude Pundit

So just to get this straight, Republicans, 'cause Jesus Christ knows your views shouldn't be misrepresented: with the unstoppable Gulf oil gusher poisoning everything in the sea and destroying the economies of probably four states at minimum, with Israel gettin' all raid-on-Entebbe with a ship that was trying to get food and medicine to starving people in Gaza, with Afghanistan becoming the war that it was always gonna become, with the need for jobs programs and housing programs and training programs in this country, with immigration, climate change, civil rights for gays, and more needing work and leadership and legislation, with all that shit plus whatever the fuck's going on with the European economy, some of you guys think that President Obama should be impeached because a guy was offered a job to not run for office.

That's like surfing a tsunami while it's going through a village and drowning schoolyards full of children. That's like turning to your wife while the house burns down and saying, "Gimme a blow job 'cause I love the way you look in firelight."

The Rude Pundit