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June 28, 2010

McChrystal, Petraeus, Afghanistan

Having managed to sleep through last week's Afghanistan dramafest, the Blog Princess is just now getting up to speed on the McChrystal-Petraeus switcheroo. There are several interesting takes on offer. Here are a few that caught my eye.

First up is Sir Jules of Crittenden, who comments on the persistent rumors that All Will Be Well with respect to the oft bewailed ROE now that the Evil McChrystal hath been dispatchèd to wherever inconveniently truth-telling G.O.s, go:

Apart from the tactical advantage the enemy derives from not being killed, for that part of it I’m able to directly observe, I have to say that on a strategic level, in terms of how perceptions are shaped far from the physical battlefield of battle, the Taliban gets a major assist from media reporting that obsesses on coalition-caused civilian deaths often to the exclusion of reporting on who, and whose tactics, are actually responsible for most of the killing.

On the bright side, with McChrystal and his truthiness safely banished to Hades we won't have to worry about the silencing of beautiful and patriotic dissent anymore! I'm guessing that a new era of journalistic openness and transparency is the order of the day. Of course, it always helps to have the President on the same sheet of music:

Asked whether he would move U.S. troops out of Iraq to better fight terrorism elsewhere, he brought up Afghanistan and said, "We've got to get the job done there and that requires us to have enough troops so that we're not just air-raiding villages and killing civilians, which is causing enormous pressure over there."

Many commentators seem determined to gloss over the degree to which the command environment in Afghanistan differs from what Petraeus had to deal with in Iraq. Aside from the normal inter service squabbling, the civil side of the equation is even less helpful and Afghanistan's own government (due to divers issues both structural and geographical) makes Maliki's government look positively squared away by comparison.

And on top of everything else, there's NATO. Oddly enough, I find myself reluctantly agreeing with Thomas Ricks. Despite his undoubted gifts, Petraeus is unlikely to be able to peel very many layers off what amounts to a damned big onion. What he does bring to the table is exactly what we're not getting from Obama: leadership and the ability (and will) to build support for whatever plan we go forward with from here:

Petraeus's critical contribution in Iraq was one of leadership: He got everyone on the same page. Until he arrived, there often seemed to be dozens of wars going on, with every brigade commander trying to figure out the strategic goals of a campaign. Before Petraeus arrived, the top priority for U.S. forces was getting out. After he took over, the No. 1 task for U.S. troops, explicitly listed in the mission statement he issued, was to protect the Iraqi people.
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Of course, establishing cohesion in the U.S. effort in Iraq took a lot more than issuing statements. In spring 2007, I watched Petraeus work hard to establish a consensus about what the goals should be and how to achieve them. "There are three enormous tasks that strategic leaders have to get right," he told me one day in Baghdad. "The first is to get the big ideas right. The second is to communicate the big ideas throughout the organization. The third is proper execution of the big ideas." An astute bureaucratic operator, he used a variety of studies and panels convened in his Baghdad headquarters to pull together the big ideas of how to deal with the insurgency and how to better protect the Iraqi people. These had the useful side effect of getting buy-in from civilian American officials in Iraq.

Just as important, he worked tirelessly with his military subordinates, going out and talking not just to the division commanders below him, but to their brigade commanders and even to the battalion commanders an echelon below them. He issued letters to the troops explaining the new approach of living among the people and protecting them with small, vulnerable outposts. He walked the streets and talked to Iraqis. He also hired a leading counterinsurgency expert, David Kilcullen, an Australian infantry officer turned anthropologist, to coach American commanders, making sure that they not only talked counterinsurgency but that they also learned how to practice it. In a series of interviews I conducted with Petraeus in 2007 and 2008, one of his favorite words was "relentless." It is the best one-word summary of his approach.

Finally, Petraeus took a much more humble stance, in which Iraqis were not told what to do and how and when to do it, but were asked their advice about what to do, and the best way to do it. It was notable that three of the most important advisers around Petraeus as he took command were foreigners -- Kilcullen; a pacifistic British political adviser named Emma Sky who had been against the war; and Sadi Othman, a Palestinian American who became Petraeus's personal envoy to the Iraqi government. A sharp contrast to the frat-boy atmosphere around McChrystal depicted in a Rolling Stone profile that led to his dismissal.

Petraeus was aided enormously by Ryan C. Crocker, one of the savviest American diplomats and one of the most experienced in the region, having served in Pakistan, Lebanon and in Iraq decades prior. Early in the war, friction between Ambassador L. Paul Bremer and Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez had crippled the U.S. effort and confused Iraqis. Bremer was all about transforming Iraq politically, an inherently turbulent mission, while the U.S. Army decided on its own that its job was to produce stability.

Repelled by such persistent friction, Petraeus and Crocker were determined to coordinate their actions. Word went out to subordinates that neither of them would tolerate infighting between civilian and military officials. When the two returned to the United States to testify before Congress in September 2007, they showed a united front, key in winning them more time for the war at a moment when congressional leaders such as Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. were saying it was time to "stop the surge and start bringing our troops home."

In Kabul, alas, Petraeus will find no such useful ally in the American ambassador.

I think that was Petraeus' true genius - he was able to lend a sense of focus and cohesion to an enormously risky strategy - one in which the military no longer called all the shots. That seems crucial if we're going to begin turning everything over to the Afghanis in 12 months. They can't get up to speed if we never give them the chance to make mistakes and learn from them. Which brings me to the final puzzle piece:

Sacked US General Stanley McChrystal issued a devastatingly critical assessment of the war against a "resilient and growing insurgency" just days before being forced out.

Using confidential military documents, copies of which have been seen by the IoS, the "runaway general" briefed defence ministers from Nato and the International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) earlier this month, and warned them not to expect any progress in the next six months. During his presentation, he raised serious concerns over levels of security, violence, and corruption within the Afghan administration.

... the "campaign overview" left behind by General McChrystal after he was sacked by President Barack Obama last week warned that only a fraction of the areas key to long-term success are "secure", governed with "full authority", or enjoying "sustainable growth". He warned of a critical shortage of "essential" military trainers needed to build up Afghan forces – of which only a fraction is classed as "effective".

He pinpointed an "ineffective or discredited" Afghan government and a failure by Pakistan "to curb insurgent support" as "critical risks" to success. "Waning" political support and a "divergence of coalition expectations and campaign timelines" are among the key challenges faced, according to the general.

It was this briefing, according to informed sources, as much as the Rolling Stone article, which convinced Mr Obama to move against the former head of US Special Forces, as costs soar to $7bn a month and the body count rises to record levels, because it undermined the White House political team's aim of pulling some troops out of Afghanistan in time for the US elections in 2012. In addition to being the result of some too-candid comments in a magazine article, the President's decision to dispense with his commander was seen by the general's supporters as a politically motivated culmination of their disagreements.

So much for that idiotic business about McChrystal trying to cover up the fact that all is not well. But if there's anything to the story, it points up the critical missing piece: a President who is willing to throw his full weight behind the war effort. Given the far more difficult task set out for us in Afghanistan and the ludicrously short time frame provided, I very much fear that Obama's shilly shallying and risk aversion are two millstones that even the most talented commander in modern times cannot overcome.

I hope I'm wrong. Now would be a great time for the Democrats to demand a little of that willingness to listen that we heard so much about during the Bush years.

Nah...

Posted by Cassandra at June 28, 2010 08:58 AM

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Comments

"I hope I'm wrong. Now would be a great time for the Democrats to demand a little of that willingness to listen that we heard so much about during the Bush years."

Considering how many of said Democrats are of the belief that the Taliban is in the right and Western civilization is in the wrong, I'd say it's unlikely.

Posted by: Cousin Dave at June 28, 2010 01:36 PM

NATO's why Afghanistan went to hell in the first place there, after the initial OEF.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at June 28, 2010 03:17 PM

I very much fear that Obama's shilly shallying and risk aversion are two millstones that even the most talented commander in modern times cannot overcome.

my prediction is that Obama is just going to throw some troops into the meatgrinder of Afghanistan, hoping for some attrition, and then either use the excuse of failure to end funding or troop deployments in AFG or rely upon his successor to actually fully withdraw and take the Fall of Saigon legacy instead.

Regardless, Obama, like Lyndon Johnson, will keep pushing troops through the meat grinder and demanding "fewer casualties" while ensuring that maximum casualties, for both sides, is the result. It's a neat little trick if you can pull it off. There is more than one way to skin a cat. Even absent the ability of Muslims to kill boatloads of US troops through symmetrical means, Obama at least has a symmetrical weed killer up in ops.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at June 28, 2010 03:20 PM

I think NATO's a mixed blessing Ymar. Some of the NATO troops are quite good but there's no denying all that multilateralism makes it harder to get even the simplest things done.

Not necessarily anyone's fault.

The spouse told a funny story right after he got over there. He was lucky enough to get a berth in a room with 8 or so bunks and people coming and going at all hours of the day and night. There was no place to put anything (but hey - it was tons better than most folks had). Anyway, people were all bent out of shape b/c a rumor was going around that a certain nation had "swiped" all the lockers. People were really getting whacked off about it.

After a while, he just walked over to one of the officers in question and - in halting whatever-ese - asked him about the lockers.

"Sure!", the officer replied cheerily - "Would you like one? Here - take two!"

Problem solved. I had to laugh b/c my husband is neither Mr. Congeniality nor Mr. Work The System. He can be kind of taciturn at times. But he figured that instead of getting wrapped around the axle over a rumor he'd ask them and they were more than happy to share.

It's just that up to that point, no one had asked them :p Maybe having lived in Europe as a teen helped - not sure.

*rolling eyes*

I always kind of laugh at all the interservice cultural issues that crop up between Americans in the military. Try adding in different languages, uniforms, allegiances, customs, regulations and manners and it gets really interesting.

Posted by: Cassandra at June 28, 2010 03:26 PM

my prediction is that Obama is just going to throw some troops into the meatgrinder of Afghanistan, hoping for some attrition, and then either use the excuse of failure to end funding or troop deployments in AFG or rely upon his successor to actually fully withdraw and take the Fall of Saigon legacy instead.

I'm sure this says something bad about me but I can't quite bring myself to believe even Obama would do that on purpose.

On the other hand I am rapidly running out of even far fetched explanations that would make sense of the decisions he's made so far. That is not good.

Posted by: Cassandra at June 28, 2010 03:35 PM

"...I can't quite bring myself to believe even Obama would do that on purpose."

Why not?

Posted by: DL Sly at June 28, 2010 05:13 PM

I guess my general world view is more oriented to treating people as innocent until I have evidence of their guilt.

I haven't seen that evidence yet. I'm not saying it doesn't exist - just that what I've seen doesn't rise to that level yet.

I lived through 8 years of even my relatives imputing the worst possible motives to George Bush. Because they disagreed with him politically, it never even f***ing occurred to them that maybe - just maybe - they simply didn't understand where the guy was coming from.

And what they couldn't understand, they demonized.

Having screwed up quite a bit in my life, I'm not so quick to condemn. I think perhaps people get to be proven wrong by events.

You all know I like Robert Samuelson on economics. The reason I like him is that IMNSHO, he's intellectually honest. He (like me) believes what he believes passionately. But he can also understand that not everything is cut and dried, black and white.

A lot of liberals hated Bush b/c he got us into a fight in Afghanistan but always made Iraq the priority. That's a bloody cold assessment in many ways. It also happens to be one that not only I but my husband (and we frequently don't see eye to eye) totally understood. I also understand why some of my liberal relatives have issues with it.

I just don't agree with them. It's a judgment call. A particularly brutal and horrific judgment call.

Posted by: Cassandra at June 28, 2010 06:21 PM

Sorry for the swearing.

I realize I'm breaking my own rules there. Sometimes I can't just discuss it academically (not that anyone else is doing that). The whole topic makes me want to put my fist through the drywall.

Posted by: Cassandra at June 28, 2010 06:24 PM

"Until he arrived, there often seemed to be dozens of wars going on, with every brigade commander trying to figure out the strategic goals of a campaign. Before Petraeus arrived, the top priority for U.S. forces was getting out. After he took over, the No. 1 task for U.S. troops, explicitly listed in the mission statement he issued, was to protect the Iraqi people." - Thomas Ricks, et al

Well, besides being wrong, Ricks probably knows better, so actually he's a liar.
Before the surge, the number one mission was to train the Iraqi Army. The surge would have been impossible without enough trained and ready Iraqi units to "surge" with the American Army and Marines.
There were also other campaigns that were carried out besides, of course the pacification of Fallujah and Ar-Ramadi. Wretchard at the Belmont Club wrote extensively about the "River Campaign", which was to cut off the "ratlines" of supply to the insurgency that ran back to Syria up the Tigris and Euphrates.
Of course, to acknowledge that there was some sort of order before then would be to imply that the imbecile Bush might have actually had a notion about what was going on. Can't have that.

I caught a few minutes of the Greatness that is Thomas Ricks on "Meet the Press" on Sunday, and frankly that was enough to turn my stomach.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at June 28, 2010 07:52 PM

I think Obama is getting a twofer on this one: an out if Afghanistan continues to go south ("Hey...I put General David Petraeus in charge and even HE couldn't manage to get it back on track. It's just unwinnable.") thereby shifting the blame off of his own back. And, if it DOES go south, Obama has just effectively hobbled any kind of Presidential bid Petraeus might have made in 2012 or 2016.

One more for the hat-trick please. And pass the tinfoil hat, thankyouverymuch.

Posted by: HomefrontSix wears a tinfoil hat at June 28, 2010 09:13 PM

Sorry for the swearing.
I realize I'm breaking my own rules there. Sometimes I can't just discuss it academically (not that anyone else is doing that). The whole topic makes me want to put my fist through the drywall.
Posted by: Cassandra at June 28, 2010 06:24 PM

I must confess, I was a bit surprised when I saw that...but oft times that type of language occurs when one feels passionately about something.

As for Obama, I believe that there's been plenty of evidence that all he cares about is his own agenda. Other people's lives? Not so much...

Posted by: camojack at June 29, 2010 01:19 AM

"Until he arrived, there often seemed to be dozens of wars going on, with every brigade commander trying to figure out the strategic goals of a campaign. Before Petraeus arrived, the top priority for U.S. forces was getting out. After he took over, the No. 1 task for U.S. troops, explicitly listed in the mission statement he issued, was to protect the Iraqi people." - Thomas Ricks, et al

Don, this is one of those cases where, though he may have gotten the particulars wrong, I think he is right wrt the overall observation.

Ricks has always had a huge political agenda and it seems to color everything he writes. That's why I've never been a huge fan of his work. Also I found it amusing when he came out with that Anbar memo that the media relentlessly flogged back in 2006. What I was hearing from my husband at the time completely contradicted Ricks and in retrospect it was Ricks who was proven wrong :p

That said, I don't think he's wrong about the effect Petraeus had on operations in Iraq. I got interested in him shortly before he took over. My husband was skeptical, which is pretty normal for him.

Watching him on a day to day basis, though, he ended up very impressed. The leadership and cohesion he brought to the table made a huge difference in the way things ran and in people's attitudes.

A lot of times people get wrapped up in process and plans and forget that in the end, war is - like most things - a very human endeavor. Sure, you can order people to do things but they'll do a hell of a lot better job if you get some buy in.

I think that is what Petraeus was good at - getting that buy in from an array of different parties with differing agendas and outlooks. To me, that's what leadership *is*, and although I am not faulting the previous leadership I do think Petraeus is/was something special in that regard.

I even felt it as a family member. Normally I do not bother reading commanders' letters to families. After nearly 30 years I've seen hundreds of them.

I read his, and they made me feel more positive about what we were doing. They made a real difference.

Posted by: Cassandra at June 29, 2010 08:17 AM

On the other hand I am rapidly running out of even far fetched explanations that would make sense of the decisions he's made so far. That is not good.

I'm not sure you're looking at it from the right direction, Cass. I agree that I don't think he's looking for the best way to make bodies. But his decisions DO make sense if you accept that he's actually got no plan at all. Anytime you see someone swerve around wildly, it's because they can't really decide how to do something. And this is amplified by the fact that the very people he surrounds himself with (to whose advise he's listening) are not, and never have been military personnel. They do not understand kinetic operations, insurgent or otherwise, and have no idea what it takes to run a military campaign. So he'll tack in a new direction, not get immediate results, throw that plan away and put all his chips in another plan, throw that one away when it fails to immediately pay out... etc.

The reason you can't make sense of his decisions is that you're looking for the logic behind them. And there is none. An bad plan is still at least a plan. But he doesn't even have that. I think it's pretty clearly a case of "he doesn't know what he's doing, and neither do his advisers," rather than, "he's a sinister villain who wants to kill our troops for no better reason than he likes killing soldiers."

Posted by: MikeD at June 29, 2010 09:08 AM

And do let me specify, that's just my belief. I have no particular insight nor revealed truth guiding me. It just is the theory that best holds up to Occams Razor to me.

Posted by: MikeD at June 29, 2010 09:10 AM

Cass and Don, interesting comments. One thing you have to remember, and this is where Rick touches on the truth, is that prior to the Iraq surge, there were people in the command structure who were actively working to sabotage Bush's goals in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The various retired-generals-councils that issued pompous statements about how Bush did everything wrong from the moment he woke up in the morning would not have bothered if they didn't have the ear of actives inside the Pentagon and the JCS. Possibly Patraeus' greatest contribution in Iraq was the elimination of this problem. It'll be interesting to read Patraeus' memoirs some years from now, and see who got cashiered when he took over the Iraq command and why.

I will also say this, and bear in mind that I was a fan of Bush, but: he and his leadership at times suffered from a form of paralysis by analysis, in which their constant quest for the perfect strategy prevented them from executing the good-enough strategy. I do think it created a leadership vacuum in Iraq for a while. Bear in mind what was happening then on the domestic side: the mainstream media narrative had gained some traction with the American people. That narrative said that Bush was a blundering fool who couldn't run a lemonade stand, and as proof they ran the daily body counts and the constant stories about hearts and minds etc. We all know Bush was not fond of face-to-face confrontations with the media; he preferred to let his actions speak for him. I think that for a while he was trying to disprove the media narrative by trying to actually devise a strategy that would meet all of the media's demands. However, he eventually had to admit to himself that that was impossible, and that's when he brought in Patraeus.

Posted by: Cousin Dave at June 29, 2010 10:16 AM

I don't see malice in his military decisions. I do think he's so skeptical of the very idea that the U.S. could exert military force toward a legitimate aim that he's almost inevitably too bogged down to make sensible decisions. And yet if he were simply indulging the beliefs of most of the people who have influenced his young life, you'd think he'd simply pull out all of the troops everywhere, immediately. Whether he avoids doing that because he senses it wouldn't fly politically, or because he actually understands that some military efforts are worth the cost and risk, I can't imagine.

I keep coming back to the tendency of Bush's enemies to impute malice to him in two situations: the invasion of Iraq (the WMD thing) and the aftermath of Katrina. It's 100% obvious to me that Bush believed in a real WMD danger, right there along with many if not most of the other people trying to peer into that situation in good faith and sort out clues -- but the people who hated Bush were quite certain he was acting out of malevolence, because they couldn't imagine anyone wanted to invade a country for good reasons, so they had to concoct a bad one.

In the case of Katrina, they assumed the federal government should sweep in and take command, while Bush clearly failed to foresee how poorly some local authorities would handle the situation. Like all of us, I think, he totally failed to foresee how nearly impossible it was to help a huge population that had been government-dependent for 3-4 generations and living below sea-level. You can help a few people in that spot, but I don't know when we'd ever been confronted with trying to help 100,000 at once in a small, devastated area. But Bush's enemies assumed that, if he wasn't doing a better job, it was because he didn't care, or even that he had actual malice for the residents of New Orleans.

Fast-forward to, say, the Gulf, where I think President Obama is letting the bureaucracy strangle whatever local, spontaneous, or private efforts might be improving the spill cleanup effort. Could he really just be that blind to the idea that, in an emergency, you should cut loose some of the regulatory nonsense you're normally so wedded to -- union shibboleths, EPA nitpicks, slow-slow-slow safety inspections, the Jones Act? He knows how to cut across red tape when the crisis impels him to do something that's in his ideological comfort zone, like banning drilling, but not when it leads him into uncomfortable areas like deregulation. It's not really his ox being gored, in a way that might jog him out of his rut.

Posted by: Texan99 at June 29, 2010 10:16 AM

And isn't there all the difference in the world between a leader who waits too long to intervene with federal resources, and one who fails to call off the federal resources who are preventing an effective solution by others?

Posted by: Texan99 at June 29, 2010 12:09 PM

The only President who wasn't "willing to throw his full weight behind the war effort" was the last one which is why we find ourselves in this current situation.

Also, the July, 2011 deadline is two full Friedman Units away and both Gates and Feinstein have publicly indicated that the deadline is not set in stone, a clear sign the goalposts are already in the process of being moved.

Since nobody, even islamocommunofascist nazi defeat-o-crats, wants to see the Taliban take over ten seconds after we pull out, I'm sure there won't be much of a protest about pushing the deadline beyond the 2012 elections as long as St. Petraeus continues to make "progress".

Posted by: Craig at June 29, 2010 02:10 PM

both Gates and Feinstein have publicly indicated that the deadline is not set in stone, a clear sign the goalposts are already in the process of being moved.

And so far, every time someone does that, the White House issues a denial.

We'll see what happens this time, Craig. As for this:

The only President who wasn't "willing to throw his full weight behind the war effort" was the last one which is why we find ourselves in this current situation.

... what a load of nonsense. Just saying something doesn't make it so. Unlike Obama, Bush never said Afghanistan came first.

Posted by: Cassandra at June 29, 2010 02:14 PM

"Since nobody, even islamocommunofascist nazi defeat-o-crats, wants to see the Taliban take over ten seconds after we pull out,..."

Considering that the genocide of one-third of Cambodia's population didn't trouble their sleep for even an instant, I think you are very provably wrong in that assertion.

Posted by: Cousin Dave at June 29, 2010 03:20 PM

Since nobody, even islamocommunofascist nazi defeat-o-crats, wants to see the Taliban take over ten seconds after we pull out...

I love the constant straw men. As if I've ever used language like that.

When I see stuff like that it makes me wonder why I try to avoid that kind of rhetoric. Obviously what I actually say doesn't really matter.

Posted by: Cassandra at June 29, 2010 03:29 PM

Since nobody, even islamocommunofascist nazi defeat-o-crats, wants to see the Taliban take over ten seconds after we pull out, I'm sure there won't be much of a protest about pushing the deadline beyond the 2012 elections as long as St. Petraeus continues to make "progress".

They've already set the stage for a pullout by continuing to re-define "progress" and changing the desired strategic end-state. How do you convince someone you're serious about fighting "the war we must fight" and in the next breath, say, "I don't like to use the word 'victory'"...?

Posted by: BillT at June 29, 2010 04:46 PM

Craig, I don't think I recognize any part of the universe you inhabit.

Posted by: Texan99 at June 29, 2010 06:32 PM

Texan99,

Ditto.

Posted by: Craig at June 30, 2010 08:55 AM

Cassandra,

I never said you used the term "islamocommunofascist nazi defeat-o-crats".

Posted by: Craig at June 30, 2010 09:27 AM

Who uses that term, Craig, (or anything like it)? What makes it appropriate in a response to anything written at VC?

Perhaps you'll be so kind as to explain the purpose of wildly exaggerating what you perceive as the viewpoints ("islamocommunofascist nazi defeat-o-crats", "St. Petraeus") of whoever it is you were responding to?

From your first sentence (which quotes me), that would appear to be me.

Posted by: Cassandra at June 30, 2010 09:39 AM

Cassandra,

I don't find the terminology I used to be very offensive nor did I wish to imply that you personally use those pejoratives. I shall refrain from using such phrases in the future.

Posted by: Craig at June 30, 2010 11:24 AM

Thanks for the clarification, Craig.

As you well know, I am a lot more sensitive on that score than most bloggers and I do tend to police the comments section fairly vigorously - not for content (I am fine with opposing viewpoints) but for tone.

I know that many of you don't agree with me on this score, but I am often dismayed by the nasty tone of discussions I see elsewhere online. I'm not easily intimidated but many folks are and I want people to feel comfortable offering their opinions.

I am not perfect myself in this regard. I get mad, I get sarcastic at times. I deleted my own comment last night because it violated my standards. There was nothing actually "wrong" with what I said in my deleted comment but on further review I decided that I could have said the same thing in a less inflammatory way.

I can't tell you how much I appreciate your (meaning 'all of you who comment here') willingness to abide by rules that may seem pointless, excessive, or even arbitrary at times. I try not to overdo it, but being human I too have my flaws :p

Posted by: Cassandra at June 30, 2010 12:15 PM

but the people who hated Bush were quite certain he was acting out of malevolence

It was hard to get their real thoughts since they were so opaque but most of the Left didn't think Bush ws the master mind of that at all. They thought Rove and dick Cheney were. You know Dark Lord Cheney? I'm not sure whether he is the Left's boogey man or if they simply like being afraid of this sinister power behind the throne type character that you usually often find in Leftist revolutions.

But Bush's enemies assumed that, if he wasn't doing a better job, it was because he didn't care, or even that he had actual malice for the residents of New Orleans.

That was tied into the racism industry, so it made for good propaganda.

They spent decades putting their name brand racism into the public conscience. Might as well use it against Bush too.

Craig, I don't think I recognize any part of the universe you inhabit.

Don't worry, that's what taxes are for. To substitute for actual capability to deal with reality through the substance dependence and subsidies of the dependent classes (parasites).

What makes it appropriate in a response to anything written at VC?

*Slow golem like pace* Just make it up as we go a lung.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at June 30, 2010 04:59 PM

I'm surprised to see you recycling this naive quote from Tom Ricks:

" Finally, Petraeus took a much more humble stance, in which Iraqis were not told what to do and how and when to do it, but were asked their advice about what to do, and the best way to do it. It was notable that three of the most important advisers around Petraeus as he took command were foreigners -- Kilcullen; a pacifistic British political adviser named Emma Sky who had been against the war; and Sadi Othman, a Palestinian American who became Petraeus's personal envoy to the Iraqi government. A sharp contrast to the frat-boy atmosphere around McChrystal depicted in a Rolling Stone profile that led to his dismissal."

For an alternative perspective on Emma Sky see:

http://talismangate.blogspot.com/2009/04/arabs-and-kurds-and-emma-sky.html

and perhaps also this:

http://kjohnsonnz.blogspot.com/2009/11/from-new-york-times-november-2009.html

'The Little Drummer Girl' as Dr Johnson describes her is indeed 'The West at its worst' ...........

Posted by: neil robertson at July 4, 2010 06:23 PM

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