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August 25, 2007

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SteveMG

One of George Bush's many legacies will be a dimunition of the notion that the military must respect their civilian oversight

Sorry, Tom, but how/where exactly did this "diminution" occur? It's manifested itself how?

If I understand Kaplan correctly, his complaint is that the military leadership has not taken responsibility for the failures in Iraq. Not that they have lost respect for the civilian command.

Or is that your point? The lack of accountability by the leadership is a snub at the civilian oversight?

Or???

SMG

Syl

Sorry, Tom, but how/where exactly did this "diminution" occur? It's manifested itself how?

Oh, it's real. someone at HuffPo just called for Pace to throw Bush in the brig.

Hey--now the Left can label themselves chickenhawks! Military coup anyone?

Sara

I'm sorry too TM, but what part of HuffPo Calls For Military Coup In USA:

General Pace - you have the power to fulfill your responsibility to protect the troops under your command. Indeed you have an obligation to do so.

You can relieve the President of his command.

Not of his Presidency. But of his military role as Commander-In-Chief. ...

In addition to relieving him of his command as Commander-In-Chief, you also have authority to place the President under MILITARY arrest.

is not advocating a military coup and an armed take over of the U.S. government in the time of war, which can be punishable by death.

Of course, it is ludicrous, because it would then make Cheney the Prez, something I don't think Lewis and his minions have actually thought through.

Treasonous ignoramuses.

narciso

First of all, I trust McMaster over Yingling on this point; since he's been more successful at it (re; Tall a Far).
Most officers at the top end have been
very conventional in their thinking. ( (ie:Franks, Shinseki)Abizaid, was less
so be he clearly held the Arabist slot
in the service. Mattis, a future Marine
Commandant or higher has been least to
gripe about it; because he continues to
have deal with the real issues; Baptiste,
Zinni, et al have all checked out of the
battle because things have not gone the way
they like. On the issue of Vietnam, I am less impressed of McMaster's take since he
relies on the conventional view of Harkins
Nolting, Trueheart& Co. portrayed by Halberstam, Sheehan,& co; recently debunked
by Mark Moyar in his ground breaking Triumph Forsaken. Moyar does however suggest in the coda of his text; that the
delayed graduated escalation between 1964
& 1965; particularly after the Vietcong
attack on the Pleiku barracks, was one of
the greater errors in our Vietnam strategy
only surpassed by the coup against Diem.

Carol Herman

Not so fast, on MacArthur!

ALL of MacArthur's plans were sent to Truman by diplomatic pouch; and they fell into the hands of the Russians, AND, the Indian Goverment. When MacArthur complained that secrecy had been breached, he was called "paranoid" by the UN (who was doing the leaking.) And, Truman gave these behaviors a "pass."

In 1948, it was the GOP error to select Tom Dewey, for a re-run. Not learning that FDR had beaten him, when he ran for his 4th term. Even though FDR was fading fast, and obviously so sick, he couldn't even campaign.

By the fluke of being selected to be FDR's 4th term run, running mate, Truman became president.

And, he had it in for MacArthur, because he feared MacArthur's popularity. Lots of mistakes get made by politicians all the time!

Truman was a very short-sighted man; who ended up "lucky." Because in 1948, when he came out in favor of the creation of the Israeli State, he thought the Israelis stood no chance against the arab armies. So, Truman looks like a hero. But not to me.

In 1952, the GOP, figuring out their blunder of '48, too late; went to Ike. Who won. And, then spent the next six years too sick to be much of a president.

Well, at least on the Internet, we're free to speak.

Carol Herman

There's a wonderful William Manchester book, American Caesar, out there. Very read-able. About MacArthur.

In it, I learned that Truman was beside himself, in trying to get MacArthur OUT OF TOKYO! We can claim Japan as a definite democratic success, because MacArthur found a way to fend off Truman's "requests to return home for parades."

It took MacArthur 5 years to brace Japan for democracy. Actually tossing out the "labors" of the ruling class, when it came to "cooking up a Constitution."

One of the first things, after tossing the works of the elites into the garbage, was that MacArthur sat down with a yellow pad, and drew up the Japanese Constitution.

The People came around very fast.

And, one of the first things voted upon was the laws that were going to apply to adultery.

In Japan, it had been common to kill the women who were caught.

So MacArthur had a free election where the people fot to choose (for the first time). Either both men and women would be put to death if caught in extra-marital affairs. OR NEITHER. The people picked. Nobody got killed for committing adultery.

The way the military works, is that Pershing, of WW1 fame had been exposed to Ulysses S. Grant's MILITARY training; and, in turn, Pershing influenced MacArthur. With the passing of the baton on how troops should be trained.

After WW2, politicians took our military to hell in a handbasket. Starting with Truman. WHo sided with the UN, in curtailing America's military powers, but forestalling us with STALEMATE.

The russians were happy to oblige.

Pofarmer

demanded that President Truman let him attack China. Truman fired him. History has redeemed both presidents’ decisions.

I don't think it would be too bold to say that the jury is still out on that one. Would we still be defending South Korea from N. Korea today if MacArthur had been allowed to deal with the Chinese interlopers? Why is it always considered a success to avoid a confrontation at any cost?

Rick Ballard

"One of George Bush's many legacies will be a dimunition of the notion that the military must respect their civilian oversight."

Is it gonna get worse than McClellan running against Lincoln on the Copperhead ticket?

Clarice

The ooze that seeps from the swamps!!!!!

Pofarmer

Speaking of swamp. Has anybody read Obama's latest illuminations?

From Drudge

"The Bush-Cheney administration has perfected the perpetual campaign, what I call the 50-plus-one election strategy, where you just presume half the country is red and half the country is blue," Obama said.

Just when I think he can't get any weirder. Like running a Presidential campaign two fricking years before the elections-isn't-perpetual?

RichatUF

FWIW Here is the new book from Kaplan due out in Feb 2008

I read the article and I have some seaching criticisms and think I need to look up the Yingling criticism and compare and contrast. However, I think making a striaght line comparison between MacArthur in Korea and Eisenhower in WW2 misses the mark. Eisenhower kept his disagreements to those it concerned and the air cover issue was part of the overall planning of Overlord. MacArthur on the otherhand wanted to run US foreign policy and broadcast his desire to use nuclear weapons on China to break the deadlock. Using nuclear weapons on China at the time wouldn't have saved the whole of the Korean Peninsula and wouldn't have won us the Cold War at the time. I suppose it is worth remembering that Truman eventually put the use of nuclear weapons back on the table to get the Chinese to negotiate and the Korean War Armistace was signed on July 27 1953 a little after 4 months after Stalin's death. Immediately after Stalin's death, Kim il Sung was ordered to end the conflict. So to answer Pofarmers question, we probably wouldn't be defending South Korea against North Korea because the US forces in Korea, Japan, and probably Hawaii would have been radiated. Given the depth of Soviet penetration into the US there is little doubt in my mind that after such an event the US would have negoitated a settlement with the Soviet Union instead of fighting WW3.

RichatUF

Tm writes;

One of George Bush's many legacies will be a dimunition of the notion that the military must respect their civilian oversight.

One could make the argument that the Clinton Administration's lax oversite of the military (especially the Army) created habits of mind that allowed "the generals" to plan set top battles, in isolation, without any bothersome interference. Another point to make [and I really don't know how this problem would be solved] is that the Army was on the front lines in Congress cheering on the Clinton force reductions because it brought money for technology. Where were those brave Soros generals during the Congressional hearings as the Army was shrunk from 18 divisions to 10; as they planned the RMA, were they looking over their maps thinking that the next war would look like the Gulf War and WW2, and that our disadvantage in numbers would be overcome by our overwheleming technological advantage.

Some folks wrote something about that back in 1999 [.pdf warning]

Charlie (Colorado)

Tom. I've been sick as a dog for the whole week, so can I just abbreviate this to "you're a better historian than that"?

Ralph L

One of my father's USNA friends, who later became a Marine 3 star gen., witnessed LBJ abuse the Joint Chiefs when they advised a more aggressive war against North Viet Nam in '65(?). I think they should have quit, if only for the disrespect, but you don't get to flag rank without some compromises and a lot of ambition.

TerryeL

I had a client who was a POW in a Japanese Prisoner of War camp in the Philippines and he hated MacArthur. Absolutely hated the man, he considered him a dishonest and incompetent crook. The old boy survived more than 3 years of captivity and a gun shot wound so I did not argue the point with him, but we have to remember that people tend to see what is right in front of them, sometimes the larger picture is just a mirage.

I read David McCullough's book on Truman and he talks about that incident and I am not sure that MacArthur would have been fired if the Chinese had not passed the 38th Parallel in the first place. The feeling in the White House was that MacArthur had screwed up, we were retreating, thousands of Americans were dead and here was MacArthur publicly disagreeing with Truman on what to do about it. The thing is if it all went to hell, Truman knew he was the one they would blame, not MacArthur.

Eisenhower was in a different position. We can not compare DDay, an event that was largely supported by the allied nations with the invasion of China, something that would have been considered purely insane by the vast majority of Americans.

In the Civil War Lincoln not only disagreed with the Generals, he had to fire them, answer their charges in a very public forum and yet even as late as 1864 he was asking for hundreds of thousands of more troops.

I transcribed a civil war diary and the writer, one Peter L Kemery of the Indiana Volunteers thought General Sherman was a madman but he loved Old Abe.

General Washington had to beg Congress for support, it was not as if the civilian authorities at the time followed him blindly.

I think it would be far more difficult for a lot of these guys to follow Hillary Clinton as Commander in Chief than it has been to follow Bush, they are soldiers they expect to fight...they just do not like being fought over or being used.

TerryeL

Has anyone ever stopped to consider the fact that if MacArthur had invaded China, we might have lost? Think on that. They lived there, they did not have to ship in anything or anyone and they were more than willing to send 50,000 screaming Chinamen into the American lines to certain death.

No, I do not think we need to be so sure that Truman was wrong on that one.

Now, I do think that abandoning Viet Nam emboldened the communists all over the world as well as the students in Tehran who took that embassy.

So I think there are times when backing down creates more conflict, but then there are also times when discretion is the better part of valor.

kim

Right, Terrye, we'd have nuked them and still lost. Think where we'd be now.
===========

Semanticleo

Eisenhower and MacArthur are two extremes.

One was a humble soldier who built his reputation on solid thinking and long-term alliances. The other was self-aggrandizing
and imperious, establishing his bona fides on fear and intimidation.

To the broader issue; "is that too few generals today possess either set of qualities — and that the promotional system impedes the rise of officers who do."

That is the model for Corporate America (probably Intercontinental Corps, too) just as in the Military. "Don't make waves" has
it's origin in the ranks, I believe. Individual careers are the important thing,
not the health of the company or Branch of Service. Yes, there are true believers who rise to the top. But that is the function,
largely, of established alliances (the 'Good
Ol' Boy' Network) that can work to elevate
those who are competent and efficacious, just as it assists the ruthless and incompetent. It is a systemic problem which has always existed on some level in every bureaucracy. There just aren't enough good people to go around.

kim

Cleo, you have so many emotionally laden names for human organization. We've been herd animals since long before Marx was born.
==========================

Cecil Turner

One was a humble soldier who built his reputation on solid thinking and long-term alliances. The other was self-aggrandizing and imperious, establishing his bona fides on fear and intimidation.

Both were five-star generals with a gift for staffwork, leadership, and politics. They planned and executed the largest amphibious assaults in history. Both accepted the surrenders of theater Axis powers and went on to become military governors of their respective zones. One became President. IMNSHO, "humble" doesn't apply. (In fact, applying it to Bradley is a stretch, though common.) The more interesting point of distinction is that one was a bona-fide war hero (with two DSCs and 7 Silver Stars as the "most decorated officer of WWI" . . . somewhat ironically given the MOH for the Philippine fiasco); the other never saw front-line combat. There's little doubt Ike learned from his tour as Mac's aide, and their similarities far outweigh the differences. However, if we're looking for officers with moral courage, one had it in spades, the other had a tendency to vacillate and compromise.

One interesting aspect of the civilian control debate in the military is how well MacArthur comes off with career military types. Not necessarily on the specific point of challenging Truman's authority, but in resisting what many consider untoward interference. Personally I've never considered it a close call, but many officers do.

I also have a hard time with this argument by Kaplan:

But in terms of the issues that Yingling, McMaster and others have raised, was there really a distinction? Weren’t both generals speaking what they regarded as “truth to power”?
Again, if we're asking for those with moral courage to speak up, those examples don't work very well. (The best recent example is probably Gen Peter Pace's comments on Libby and homosexuality, that got him fired, and hardly endeared him to the anti crowd.) The issue isn't just willingness to speak up, but the message. And firing military officers one disagrees with will not promote candor.

Moreover, it's hard to see Yingling's article as much of a challenge to the President's authority over the military. It appeared to me more of a warmed-over "they had no plan" argument from someone with more of a political science background than a military operations one. Basic points:

  • Generals always prepare for the last war;
  • Vietnam was won by an insurgency, and the generals responded by enhancing conventional power;
  • counterinsurgency remains our main weakness;
  • Iraq is unwinnable and the military leadership should've told the NCA as much.
Personally, I'm not buying any part of it. As recent discussions highlight, the Vietnamese insurgency was crippled in 1968, we withdrew our troops in 1973, and the North Vietnamese "reunified" the nation two years later by means of a very conventional assault, spearheaded by armor divisions supplied by the Soviets. What the generals learned from that lesson was to win wars faster, before our Fourth Estate could convince the people that they'd lost. Unfortunately, we now have a corollary: "wars may be lost after military victory." And it does bear some reflection.

Semanticleo

More 'Civilian Control of the Military'

From Crooked Timber;

"A website run by the neocon thinktank the Center for Security Policy (members include Frank Gaffney, Richard Perle and Doug Feith) has published (then removed) a piece calling for Bush to use his military powers to become “the first permanent president of America”"

I guess they figure we're not ready for it yet, Caesar taking Gaul, that is.

http://watchingthewatchers.org/news/1290/conservative-group-calls-bush

RichatUF

cleo dribbles-

More 'Civilian Control of the Military'...

Right cleo. You know I've also read that the Jews have a secret plan to take over the world. Or is it the Illumaniti...or the Freemasons...or the Papists...

I'm sure Gore has the answers-it must be global warming.

Cecil-

Nicely done!

Barney Frank

--"A website run by the neocon thinktank the Center for Security Policy (members include Frank Gaffney, Richard Perle and Doug Feith) has published (then removed) a piece calling for Bush to use his military powers to become “the first permanent president of America”"--

I searched and searched for similarly goofy statements amongst the nutroots but was unable to come up with a single case of a moonbat's paranoid squawking about Bush destroying the constitution and suspending civil liberties all in the name of furthering some type of fascistic dictatorship. Not a one, anywhere.
However, I'm sure if any such imbecilic and loony comments were ever to appear in the universally sober and restrained nutroots community that the moonbats would immediately remove them just as the site mentioned above did.

Clarice

Cleo, surely someone has a screen capture of such a startling statemtn! Duped again you were.

Sara

Eisenhower and MacArthur are two extremes.

If these are two extremes, then where does General George Patton fit in? Ike and FDR seemed to have fits over trying to control him and to some, including Patton, at the expense of the mission.

Clarice

Cleo,Here are the only 2 archived articles by Atkinson:http://www.familysecuritymatters.org/search.php
and the archive of the August 3 edition:http://www.familysecuritymatters.org/search.php
The only thing I can find in the google caches are from the moonbat sites claiming it was from FSM. It's like making up somehting, saying you wrote it and then erased it.

In the meantime, of course, it's the Huff Po which is calling for a military coup.

glasater

Sara--Thank you for bringing up Patton because he came to mind in this conversation.

What is interesting to me is that it seems military men when they attain political office are a curious mixture of conservatism and liberalism i.e. A. Haig and C. Powell.

Semanticleo

Clarice;

I don't think Mr. Atkinson will answer my email but you might try................
[email protected]

As for the screen capture, no such luck yet.

From CT;

"It’s impossible to tell if this is satire by someone who has cleverly infiltrated FSM over a lengthy period (quite a few other pieces by the same author, Philip Atkinson were also removed)"

No word from John about the screen captures for the other deleted Atkinson pieces either.

Clarice

This purports to be a screen capture:
http://bp0.blogger.com/_v63oTveUEGI/Rs-zwBUvUpI/AAAAAAAACiE/gkzvLnOc0z8/s1600-h/fsm.jpg>Real or memorex

Given the Bd of this group, I have to believe this is a fraud or a satire, cleo.

TerryeL

kim:

Would we have nuked them? Only the President could make that decision and the President was Truman, he had given that order once and was in no hurry to give it again.

My father was in Nagasaki a few days after that bomb fell. Trust me, no one wanted to do that again a few years later. To assume that we would have won, that the president would not have been impeached, that the American people would have tolerated the use of a weapon in a war they just wanted to get out of is highly simplistic.

Hey, China is still there and we still have the bomb I guess we could still use it on them..or at least on North Korea. If it was such a good idea then, why not now?

Semanticleo

"I have to believe this is a fraud or a satire, cleo."

I have no problem with satire. But how
do you judge them as a good source of satire
on such a sensitive subject?

It's got to be some sort of fraud.

boris

The MacArthur and nukes story seems to be miscast. IIRC his proposal was to use them in Korea as a defensive tactical theater weapon against the invading Chinese army.

Semanticleo

Thanks for running that down, Clarice.

kim

I was agreeing with you, Terry. It is not possible to write such that you cannot be misunderstood, so I don't even try.
======================================

kim

It is the Middle Kingdom, after all.
=====================================

kim

Radical Islam is a stalking horse for Asia. It is a mercy South Asia speaks English.
=====================================

TerryeL

boris:

It would still have required an order from the President.Any use of nukes does.

And how many civilians would have been killed? The Chinese communists were willing to kill tens of millions of their own people in the Cultural Revolution, the North Koreans were no less ready to kill civilians, the American people were not and they still aren't.

Imagine the reaction if today we said that we were going to use tactical nukes against the Iranians. Just to slow em up and keep them out of Iraq.

This was the early 50's we are talking about, it was less than a decade after WW2. We had seen our men surrounded, forced to retreat in war that was supposed to be contained and that most people wanted no part of. The idea that Truman could have used nuclear weapons and everything would have been ok fine is not very realistic.

My Dad died of cancer relatively young. The doctors thought it might have been radium induced. We will never know. I know that by 1980 nearly all of the men served with were dead, most of them never saw 60.

I can remember being a little kid in Oklahoma in the 50's and the guy coming on the radio telling us not to eat the snow because of the nuclear tests.

So no, the fact that the Chinese invaded after MacArthur gave the president the impression they would not was bad enough...compounding it by using nuclear weapons would only have made matters worse. After all the Chinese knew we had the weapons, apparently they were ready to risks the people. What was a million or so people to them?

Terrye

kim:

I am sorry. I should have realized that.

kim

Naw, you needed to misunderstand me in order to write that. Thank you.
==========================================

Rick Ballard

Kim,

Steve has another pinprick up at CA.

If you look at Bernie’s population growths, these are among the most explosive population growth areas. Cruzeiro do Sul has a population of over 85,000. These are Hansen’s “rural” stations ??? What a Gong Show.

If GISS is junk and ROW (if it follows Brazil) is junk, then...

kim

I told my neighbor the other day that now we had to worry about global cooling and she responded "No Doubt".

I'm still laughing.
===================

boris

And how many civilians would have been killed?

I'm not an advocate, just pointing out miscasting of the issue.

Using tactical nukes against massive troop concentrations would not necessarily subject civilians to more danger than any other EQUIVALENTLY effective method of defense.

Furthermore the proposal to make war on China had more to do with destroying their invasion forces in China on their way to attack US forces in Korea, using CONVENTIONAL weapons.

IIRC.

boris

ISTM the strategery was to remove the China numerical advantage by defensive use of tactical nukes on US held territory while inflicting conventional air superiority against their military targets.

RichatUF

boris-

ISTM the strategery was to remove the China numerical advantage by defensive use of tactical nukes on US held territory while inflicting conventional air superiority against their military targets.

MacArthur proposed using 50 nuclear weapons against targets inside China. But we missing the bigger point:: Stalin and Mao were willing to kill millions of Koreans and Chinese to bleed the wicked American. The Korean War ended because Stalin died because there were still plenty of Koreans and Chinese left to kill Americans.

RichatUF

Back to the orginal article-

Kaplan is writing about the Yingling critique, and the Yingling critique fits within the larger Bennett thesis that its the Pentagon as a whole that is broken (the Army more so than the other services). This is not so much a failure of general leadership, but of an overall strategy and military culture that is rudderless and unfocused. The Kaplan article and the Yingling thesis seem to be tilling the ground for the examination of the scheduled US loss in the Iraq theater.

The problems Yingling has identified have been attributed to most notably career military education and technologicalism. Career Military Education is Clauswitz heavy (war is politics by other means) and a theory confined to a nation-state order, which is weak basis at best of understanding Africa, and has little analouge to the tribal politics of the Middle East [borders are good for who gets oil revenue, but not who gets a passport, and definitely not who is in your family]. Technologicalism gets to the heart of the Pentagon bureaucracy-procurement and money- and another issue: the political engineering of large defense platforms that make it all but impossible to kill programs that aren't providing the right kit for the battle. And when it comes down to a congressman's pork or more soliders in the field, the RMA and Congress sing from the same hymnal: technology allows for a smaller, faster force with more access to the battlespace.

Moreover, the Yingling critique also seems captured by the Powell Doctrine. Even Yingling, a veteran of Bosnia, would agree that the Powell Doctrine (or none of the additional criteria that Yingling adds) was met in that theater. One can add that South Korea wasn't, Vietnam wasn't, and pretty much anything an "anti-imperalist" of the progressive or isolationist bent can dream up. Why would the US was to cast a defense policy that was written essentially to prevent the US military from ever being used-Powell didn't want to repell the Iraq invasion of Kuwait and also protested against using military force in Bosina [interesting that Powell's tenure as JCS Chairman during the Clinton administration wasn't included in the Kaplan article, perhaps the book, but Powell openly broke with the Administration on the "don't ask, don't tell" policy (a political issue), and the administration's Bosina policy (interjecting hiself into foreign policy): was this "moral courage" and "creative intelligence"].

RichatUF

A few more thoughts-

Kaplan's new book, due out in Feb 2008, will set the stage, just in time for the newly minted presidentitial canadidates, for the debate on the Bush Doctrine and its 7 years in practice. Kaplan seems to be coming down that the Bush Doctrine has been a failure and that the twin dreads of Realism and Isolationism will rear their ugly heads. I am curious what one might call the Clinton Third Way foreign policy-cutting deals with thugs and tyrants, launching missiles and filing indictments in responce to terror attacks, pressing allies harder than dealing with enemies-Multilaterial Make-Believe? Anyway-

This is where I think the bigger analogy that Bush's VFW speech was making and maybe explain the hostility his speech has received in some quarters. The Long War will be as challenging as the Cold War because Islamist Terror is as ruthless and brutal as Marxist Terror was a generation ago. We won the Cold War in Asia where we stood up and stayed with our allies (Japan and South Korea) and we lost where we left (Vietnam and Indo-China). And our leaving left a humanitarian disaster in its wake. The challenge for the democrats is to recognize that Islamism poses as great a threat to the US as Communism did a generation ago and that the Middle East is of as great a strategic concern today as Asia was a generation ago. However, the "revisionist history", as the pundits have called it, challenges the left's greatest myth.

Terrye

boris:

Back in the day when the US tested nukes here in the southwest, they would get those soldiers so close that when the blast went off they could see the flash and feel the heat. God knows what else they got.

If we had used those kinds of weapons in Korea there is no telling how many of our own troops as well as the civilians would have been exposed.

Truman knew that. And he was the President. And it was his call. That is the point of civilian oversight.

kim

I'll not forget your Daddy soon, Terrye; that was good.

Rich, with the events of these last few days, when the political and spiritual leaders of Iraq smoked the peace pipe, Leavenworth will need a whole new curriculum.
================

boris

how many of our own troops as well as the civilians would have been exposed

Exposed to radiation vs overrun and shot.

MacArthur proposed using 50 nuclear weapons against targets inside China.

Is that the posthumously revealed "plan" to win war with China in 10 days? The Korea proposal at the time was less extreme. It was based on a few tactical nukes deployed against Chinese forces in Korea.

If you want to discuss everything that people were talking about at the time, okay, but I'm just pointing out there's more than a little conflation going on.

At that time the US had a few hundred and USSR had about 25. Invoking the specter of mutual assured destruction that became global reality a short time later is not a fair way to analyze that particular time.

Sue

I got to the line that read "truth to power" and had to quit. I will now read the comments to see if I can determine what the article was trying to convey. Hint to journalists, pundits, and others...stop with the phrase "truth to power".

Sue

Pofarmer,

Has anybody read Obama's latest illuminations?

Ahhh...the irony of Obama. The man who attends the Kos convention but won't appear on Fox for a debate. Now really, what part of illuminating doesn't Obama get?

Cecil Turner

The Long War will be as challenging as the Cold War because Islamist Terror is as ruthless and brutal as Marxist Terror was a generation ago. We won the Cold War in Asia where we stood up and stayed with our allies (Japan and South Korea) and we lost where we left (Vietnam and Indo-China).

Seems pretty simple when you put it like that, doesn't it? Brings to mind one of my favorite Clausewitz quotes (from the chapter on "friction"):

Everything is very simple in War, but the simplest thing is difficult.
Often missed in the analysis of Southeast Asia is the deleterious effect abandoning our allies had on our own security. The subsequent toll on American interests, both in Asia and in the Middle East, including the sequence of events leading up to the taking of hostages in Iran (and, less demonstrably, the perception by our foes that the 9/11 attacks were a safe strategy because the response would be muted) were born of the perception of a lack of US resolve. The argument is compelling, especially since the troops had already been withdrawn, and the price was a very cheap few hundred million dollars . . . and the promise of air support in an emergency.

What frankly amazes me about the whole war debate is how shallow it is. Any group of military officers attending an intermediate-level planning course would draw up a minimum of three courses of action and discuss the relative merits of each. Instead, we're stuck on refighting a four year-old decision, arguing about political fallout, and the only alternative proposal is to abandon the central front in the War on Terror. Ludicrous.

Truman knew that. And he was the President. And it was his call.

Might dispute the first part of that . . . it was an educated guess, like everything in war. But there's no question on the latter point. And even if Truman was wrong, there are very few principles worth losing a war over, but a casual glance at the politics of various troubled states suggests civilian control of the military is one of them.

kim

What a marvelous point your last one is, CT, but it is a justification for abandoning Southeast Asia.
========================

RichatUF

boris-

Invoking the specter of mutual assured destruction that became global reality a short time later is not a fair way to analyze that particular time.

True. My point was that threatening to use nuclear weapons wasn't going to end the Korean War faster or using them wasn't going to win it decisively. The Korean War ended because Stalin died.

Cecil-

What frankly amazes me about the whole war debate is how shallow it is.

In the Kaplan article, he says that Yingling asks all these questions but doesn't disentangle them. Maybe that is part of the problem-Yingling (and others in this vein) aren't asking the right questions. The Yingling formulation dead ends at the Powell/Weinberger Doctrine, which one would be hard pressed to say that any part of former Yugoslavia would qualify, and is designed to give a huge veto power over military decisions (almost like taking the Commander-in-Chief power and letting it roam around a bit).

Anyway, I've been kicking this horse dead, but I think part of the problem is that the US needs to define an "American Way of War" that includes the following elements (in a military, cultural, and political sense):

Command of the Sky

Command of the Sea

Command of the Ground

A concept of Total War that includes DIMEFIL

We have seen the Revolution in Military Affairs, and it isn't being made in Washington.

red

... is how shallow it is. Any group of military officers attending an intermediate-level planning course would draw up a minimum of three courses of action and discuss the relative merits of each. Instead, we're stuck on refighting a four year-old decision, arguing about political fallout....

Very sound point. Our political system has nearly ceased to function. What a great disappointment that in 2005-2007 politicians stand behind their vote for authorization of force no more than the civil war legislators stood behind bringing the Union together.

We can't rebuild the WTC, we can't fight rampant crime in New Orleans, we can't educate our children... but we can find out which Senator is trolling in airport washrooms.

No wonder the military has less respect for civilian leadership. What a sad bunch of clowns.

Cecil Turner

On that theme, a couple of amusing items in the morning news. First is this example of hook-line-and-sinker swallowing:

We get either sniped at or IED'd pretty much every mission," she said. "East Baghdad's really rough, but it's awesome like that. You should visit before you leave!" It took me a moment to realize she wasn't being sarcastic. "The first time you get blown up by an IED, you're like, Dude, this is badass! but after that you're like, This really is not cool at all anymore. But riding out there, getting shot at, shooting back -- that doesn't get old."
Read the rest, it gets even better. But then our Princetonian discovers that was all B.S.:
An update on the story of the specialist at FOB Rusty: she took me for a ride. I'm pretty sure now she fabricated much of what she told me, which I'm pretty pissed about; when a soldier invents a story, no matter why, they denigrate the real sacrifices of their comrades, and through my gullibility I was complicit in that.
Hmmm, ya think? And while I'd loudly denounce Private Beauchamp's fantasy series, this one strikes me as a laudable prank. The main difference? Ascertaining that the young college boy is a reporter, and then vigorously pulling his chain, was a valuable lesson in source-checking. And considering that it should've been an unbelievable war story on its face, it was obviously much needed.

Second, Human Rights Watch has discovered shelling civilians is a war crime, even when it's done by "freedom fighters" (which represents a bit of a trend; e.g., Gaza: Armed Palestinian Groups Commit Grave Crimes). But that's not the headline, which is more along the lines of terrorists not having much respect for unfavorable HRW reports:

Human Rights Watch has come under fire here by Hezbollah and its supporters for a new report accusing the guerrilla group of indiscriminately firing rockets into Israel during last summer's war.
Heh.

kim

Remarkable. I'd say AK has a great future.
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Otterbrat

Mr. Kaplan's characterization of Eisenhower's effort to subordinate the US and RAF strategic bomber forces to his direct command for Operation Overlord is a gross oversimplification.

His opposition came not from the respective civilian governments but from his opposite numbers Spaatz and Harris (8th Air Force and RAF Bomber Command) and the ultimate decision to support SHAEF's control of those forces was made by Air Chief Marshal Charles Portal on behalf of the Combined Chief's of Staff AFTER both sides had presented their arguments.

Eisenhower and SHAEF simply made the stronger case that bombing of French transportation infrastructure would better support Overlord than would the strategic bombing of German energy production targets and even though that meant literal anguish for Churchill (who was greatly saddened by the inevitable number of French civilian casualties)in the end it was professional military men who decided and not by any threat of Ike being "indispensable" to the war effort.

The whole discussion itself is rather idiotic given the 200 plus years the Armed Forces have dealt with less than stellar civilian leadership.

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