Wednesday, June 23, 2010


The Right Man

The history of our Civil War combat in Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania is largely a search by President Lincoln for the right man to lead the numerically superior forces, either comprising, or spearheaded by, the Army of the Potomac, to victory. It was a search that went on three years too long. McDowell, McClellan, Pope (kinda), Burnside, Hooker and Meade couldn't win the war. Grant could. He was the right man.

Just so, Gulf War II, finishing up the fight against Saddam Hussein's Iraqi army, starting in 2003, went on way too long because of the wrong guys in charge. Franks did OK (like Meade in 1863) but his replacements, Casey, Sanchez and even Odierno (and perhaps, to a degree, Abizaid) couldn't get us to victory. General Petraeus got the job done. (I know Iraq is no democratic utopia but the imminent collapse of the country into depotism doesn't seem so imminent and we are drawing down seriously with very few of our troops in active combat roles now). Perhaps our political choices will again snatch defeat from the jaws of victory but, just as in Viet Nam, we have won the war and leave a nation with the real chance to be a successful republic. If they can keep it.

So what about Afghanistan? We had enormous success in there in 2001 -- 2002, and drove the Taliban and al Qaeda before us. They holed up in Pakistan where the only thing that really works well there, the military, tried (some) and failed to destroy them. So the war, in the lightest possible forms of sustained combat, has lingered and dragged on and actually gotten worse--eight years plus, our longest war. The caretakers of the very low level conflict, Barno and Eikenberry had proved incapable of putting the Taliban away (not all their fault) but they were also unable to stop the Taliban escalation. Certainly the more recent guy in charge, McKiernan, summarily sacked and humiliated by our current commander in chief, wasn't getting it done. What about McChrystal, hand-picked by President Obama? How was he preforming?

In my mind, not all the great, despite his great skills as a warrior and leader of men. So the tiny ray of silverish lining in this very recent summary firing and petulant humiliation is the fact that Petraeus is back in. Can he reverse our seemingly bleak prospects one more time?



"Petulant humiliation?"

McChrystal and his aides demonstrated incredibly poor judgment in being as candid as they were w/ the reporter from RS. What was the president to do?
Giving an interview with Rolling Stone where true but unflattering things are said is bad, but it's not insubordination. I immediately thought that the President could fire the guy but I thought too that other lesser punishment was appropriate. Obama thought differently and I submit that the thing that caused him to go with relief from command was the insult he felt from things in the article. Petulant is le mot juste.
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