Obama On Iraq: A Weak Speech By A Weak President

Oama’s speech on slinking out of Iraq positively pulsated with weakness. Not for reasons Rightist wing nuts might rage.

His content and delivery raise alarming implications about who really will control key American foreign policy decisions ahead: his hopey changey rhetoric or David Petraeus et al. Obama reveals he himself is unsure.

We don’t fault him on Iraq or the need to go through the motions of praising the catastrophe. He’s merely following the Bush timetable.

Our critique rests on how he handled the military in this delicate moment. We saw a young man unsure of his authority over the military and overcompensating clumsily. Think the proverbial step parent with the skeptical, hostile teenager stepchild. Attempts to lay down rules are mocked and the step parent’s role denied – openly or passively. That’s his military. He missed an opportunity to correct things before a national audience.

Obama’s key message tonight was ostensibly his declaration that as we abandon Iraq we turn to a shared national reconstruction at home. Yet his avowed goal rests on a conundrum. ‘We will begin the drawn down in Afghanistan in 2011′ is a necessary precondition. But his declaration is really a plaintive plea. In the step parent analogy above, think a curfew issued to the back of a smirking teenager: ‘You will be home by eleven.’ Both know the reality.

Obama unnecessarily inflated the military’s prestige and thereby enhanced its future ability to obstruct his stated goal. His speech undercut his political agenda. ‘Conditions on the ground’ he concedes will dictate how and when the Afghanistan failure winds down. Obama should have made clear he will be the arbiter. A successful address would bestow fulsome praise on the military yet calibrate that necessary cant to preserve his hierarchy and aura as commander-in-chief. He didn’t. Obama is uncomfortable with power or using it.

Did Obama believe his unseemly obeisance to the military will induce them to ‘do him a solid’? Petraeus et al. will agree to ‘preside over a withdrawal’? If not, who thinks this Administration will find the political courage to pull troops without Saint David Petraeus’ blessing in 2011? Before a fevered election?

We obviously understand all presidents must paint by numbers in such addresses. Ceremonial tradition is important. We all here know together that every president since the rise of the Permanent National Security State post 1945 must ladle out panegyric chum to the military. It’s unspoken Canon Law. Especially for Obama without a plausible BOOYAH! victory to hide defeat. Some presidents do these State functions better than others. Even so, the tithing itself can’t be avoided. Especially with the all volunteer force (AVF). There’s too much national guilt over the essentially mercenary force in the field. Don’t we all see yellow ribbons in SUV windows at the grocery store?

In purely political terms, Obama’s lack of modulation unnecessarily undercut his status before a nominal national audience. He unwisely (inadvertantly?) cast himself as the callow, young supplicant, the inexperienced votive priest lighting incense for the (more mature) hallowed military. The subliminal dynamics are inescapable. One is the praise giver, the other the praise worthy. Such psycho-political dominance is more than internal theatrics and affects policies beyond just Afghanistan, ranging from Iran, a truculent Bibbi, Beijing and Northeast Asia, U.S. budgets, oversight, etc.

The W. H. Prop Department Ran Out Of G.I. Joe With Kung Fu Grip?

Did you catch the visuals behind Obama on camera? A huge portion of a flag featuring an eagle clutching arrows draped next to his head. Literally jammed at the TV viewer. Message: ‘He’s tough. Really! See the arrows??’ If SNL had the savage comedic instincts of its glory years, that would be in a ‘cold open.’

A skilled politician facing slow rolling internal insubordination would have used this speech as a platform to assert chain of command while still offering the usual ritual invocations. Praise the troops while husbanding his mystique as commander-in-chief, demonstrating his institutional authority. In effect, force the military to salute him.

He just can’t help prematurely flinching. No matter how much he kowtows to the military in public, he will never be accepted as ‘one of them’. He doesn’t demonstrate an instinctive understanding that his authority does not rest with the the military’s consent. They are not Praetorians.

Sometimes Those Talking Back Are Those Most Seeking Clarity And Structure

A still temporarily powerful but declining American military in denial presents world historical problems by itself. Its barely concealed insubordination to Obama complicates internal dynamics as the military and overall Permanent National Security State claw to maintain Nomenklatura privileges over a manipulated, subjugated populace.

(As an aside, we always welcome Obama’s statements that American diplomacy and non-military assets should move to the fore. He as usual spoke glowingly of how American domestic freedoms are an example to the world. An inconvenience that his Administration continues and even expands the Bush Adminsitration’s full spectrum assault on the citizen and aggrandizing an unaccountable Permanent National Security State).

Ironically, the military itself would benefit from less presidential fluff and more blunt managerial direction. The military has not begun to grapple with staggering strategic defeats in Iraq and Afghanistan. These defeats call into question the fundamental institutional ethos, self-identity and nature of American military doctrine. As a nation we can’t allow the military to skate examination of their incompetence, prevarications, and most importantly responsibility for the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of innocents. The military as an institution if it is to avoid even greater strategic debacles in the future must begin the painful introspection. Insincere presidential praise to placate passive aggressive insubordination should not be used to help avoid the truth.

One speech does not a presidency — or policy initiative — define. His BP ‘address’ came an went in one 15 minute news cycle. Events will dictate more opportunities to revisit all these questions.

We saw tonight a president unsure of his control over self-interested institutions hostile to his agenda and the principles of civilian control and accountability. That’s a danger to us all.

Comments

  1. Dr Leo Strauss says

    “Security companies have started to use Iraqi guards because they work cheaply and know the area. These Iraqi security contractors now try to imitate Americans in their clothing, by wearing trousers with several outside pockets, half-length boots, dark sunglasses and rolled-up sleeves. They have absorbed the way that American contractors look so much that sometimes we Iraqis cannot differentiate between an Iraqi and an American by the way he dresses.”

    http://atwar.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/03/07/i-want-to-walk-like-you-talk-like-you/?src=twr

  2. Dr Leo Strauss says

    @rkka
    rkka, am not sure if you are asserting that the U.S. is responsible for the Cold War. If so, one must be very careful about sole source fault analysis – whether in foreign policy, family barbecues or college re-unions. Especially so regarding Stalin.

    LITVINOV

    Litvinov was long used as a cynical prop by Stalin going back to the 1930s. He is most associated as you probably know with the original ‘collective security’ push against Germany in the early 1930s (while the USSR was near political collapse internally due to famine and the first 5 year plans). As a Jew he had to go when Stalin decided to cut a deal with Hitler instead and Molotov replaced him, allowing the 1939 Pact. Personally, this was also in keeping with Stalin’s mistrust and desire to eliminate ‘cosmopolitan’ Jews generally (including Molotov’s wife).

    Soviet archives make clear Litvinov’s post-war musings were never given even remotely serious consideration by Stalin or his rump Politburo. In 1944, Stalin manufactured an elaborate maskirovka to keep the West from no separate peace. Stalin, for example, ordered French and Italian communist parties to join with liberal and socialist political parties in a united front with the West and Soviets, and abruptly ordered them to cease all political participation with them after Soviet armies reached Berlin.

    Stalin in 1944 still wasn’t sure how fast the war would end. In 1943 through the Swedes he offered a separate peace to Hitler, or at least a temporary truce. Even the Soviets were surprised by Bagration’s success in June 1994 and the destruction of Army Group Center (and thus the recovery of Belorussia). Like France in 1940 in reverse, the Soviets were also surprised by the Allied rapid breakout and recapture of France.

    Litvinov, a known quantity in the West, was a useful prop to make a 1944 study in this context. In reality, Stalin’s objectives remained what they were pre-war only larger – a secure buffer zone of influence across Eastern Europe. Until Soviet armies not only expelled Germans from Soviet borders but secured that zone, Stalin was happy to send cynical signaling. Even indulging Churchill’s crude drawings of influence percentages on maps.

    WARSAW

    Harriman is also a single fault attribution – even adding the London Poles. Soviet archives make clear the political and strategic objectives weighed by Moscow in allowing the German suppression to occur. Don’t forget even Putin admits Stalin and the NKVD are responsible for the Katyn massacre which accomplished the same thing as the uprising after 1939, the murder of independent intellectuals, officers and leaders in the Soviet Polish invasion zone.

    In 1944 Soviet troops were logistically overstretched. The Wehrmacht was in ruins. The 1944 summer campaign remains the greatest German military defeat in history, far eclipsing Stalingrad. ‘Divisions’ on paper frequently a collection of 20-40 tanks, etc. Sure, there were skirmishes and Soviets often took tactical losses – in the 1944 they were losing 1,000 T-34s a month. Nonetheless, if Moscow had the political will, they could have taken Warsaw. Casualties never entered into Soviet considerations before or since. (Zhukov in particular never cared about throwing his men into a meat grinder).

    It just wasn’t a priority at the time.

    The Soviet postwar position was largely anchored to their punitive view of German political future and extracting German capital plant and experts to the Soviet Union (guidelines drawn up in 1944 and then into 1945 btw). That tension existed long before the Stalin/Molotov rejection of the many efforts to test Soviet cooperation with the ERP/Marshall Plan in 1947. The punitive action against Czechoslovakia in March 1948 for their initial willingness to explore the Paris ERP meeting (including Marasyrk’s murder – after he was berated exhaustively in a face to face with Stalin in 1947) had nothing to do with Harriman or London exiles. Add in the Berlin airlift . . .

    In sum, it is doubtful that while Stalin was alive the West could have worked with him in anything resembling a collaborative mode. The tens of millions of murdered Soviets who died at his command should be recalled, some who foolishly shouted as they were shot ‘Long live Stalin!’ not realizing who signed their death warrants (the archives even have his pencilled insults on their petitions for help). This is especially true when one looks at the Zhdanovschina unleashed domestically in 1946 against ‘pro-Western, cosmopolitanism’, etc.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zhdanov_Doctrine

    And then before his ‘death’/murder, Stalin’s “Doctor’s Plot”.

    Stephen Cohen, who in addition to romancing Katrina Vanden Heuval, in the 1980s kept pushing the fiction that Nicolai Bukharin represented an alternative to Stalinism, and that Stalinism was an aberration from Leninism. Again, archives and truth point out in Lenin’s own hand and handwriting the origins of coercive murder, terror, death, starvation and disregard for judicial norms, human rights, etc. Stalin’s personality exacerbated the Leninist State. But the continuity in the archives shows Stalinism was a distorted outgrowth, not a break.

    Buhkarinism never was a viable domestic political force. Perhaps if Cohen chose to write counterfactual historical fiction like Newt with the Confederacy we might get to see what his version of an economist, pamphleteer and newspaper editorial writer’s Soviet Union might have looked like.

  3. rkka says

    “The Brits themselves are in part responsible besides Soviet bellicosity ala 1948 and efforts in 46-48 to expand Soviet hegemony.

    Jan Masaryk didn’t – like Savinkov before – just happen to fly out that window.

    Misunderstanding the geopolitical realities and opportunities is separate problem from trying to build institutions to provide greater clarity dealing with them. That’s why we made the point of British dishonesty about WWII greatly distorting the prism of WW II narrative for 40 years. The Liddell Harts et al. line became mainstream Western thinking because of British vanity, Western need to rehabilitate some Germans, Soviet bellicosity and American linguistic and cultural cluelessness.”

    At Stalin’s request in early 1944, Litvinov did a study of the postwar world, as a fundation for Soviet postwar foreign policy, in collaboration with Maisky. The main features were the 1941 borders as the geographic war aim, postwar Great Power cooperation, bases in some neighboring countries, major reparations from Germany, and a big reconstruction loan from the US. Pleshakov and Zubok’s “Inside the Kremlin’s Cold War” pgs 28-35 cover this.

    Unfortunately, something like this wasn’t achievable in the aftermath of the Warsaw Uprising, due to the global propaganda campaign the Polish government-in-exile was conducting about the Soviet Army “…just standing by, passive and ostentatious, at a distance of 15 kilometers…”, when in reality what was going on 15km east of Warsaw in early August 1944 was an armored brawl between the 4 Panzer Divisions of 39th Panzer Corps and 2 “divisions” of 2nd Tank Army, a brawl 2nd Tank Army lost pretty badly.

    Harriman, US Ambassador in Moscow, was so outraged that he wanted a showdown with the Soviets over their alleged “refusal” to aid the Uprising, and US-Soviet relations were never the same. Thus the good Great Power relations Litvinov looked forward to as the basis for his postwar vision, wern’t possible.

    So we need to look a little deeper into that “Soviet bellicosity”.

  4. says

    @rkka
    Mixing apples and oranges here.

    First, the applies. America’s effort to unify military forces and permanently create a first-ever overtly acknowledged intelligence function (CIA in ’47, NSA to follow more quietly) specifically to help address the point you make: we were woefully ignorant, unable to process information we did have, and naive babes in the woods in a world where two oceans weren’t a shield/security blanket. (Setting aside whether the Roosevelt oil embargo in effect was a declaration of war against Japan anyway).

    The point is this reform was in structural and process terms a good intentioned and somewhat effective step forward.

    Now the oranges, which are the systemic outputs. Few understood the realities of Soviet devastation. The Soviets greatly encouraged that ignorance. The quote you share is historically accurate and insightful and the minority. The Brits themselves are in part responsible besides Soviet bellicosity ala 1948 and efforts in 46-48 to expand Soviet hegemony.

    Jan Masaryk didn’t – like Savinkov before – just happen to fly out that window.

    Misunderstanding the geopolitical realities and opportunities is separate problem from trying to build institutions to provide greater clarity dealing with them. That’s why we made the point of British dishonesty about WWII greatly distorting the prism of WW II narrative for 40 years. The Liddell Harts et al. line became mainstream Western thinking because of British vanity, Western need to rehabilitate some Germans, Soviet bellicosity and American linguistic and cultural cluelessness.

    No one really grasped what really happened on the Eastern Front in a mass educated way until the 1980s. CIA created in 1947 was very useful as check on ‘manipulated’ military intelligence like the bomber or missile gap. U2 and later Corona essential to rational American civilian decision-making.

    The problem was compounded because the Soviets themselves lied so pervasively to themselves that they themselves lost any realistic sense of their own economy and potential, coming to rely on Agency-JEC extrapolated ‘Green books’ to tell them about their own growth rates, weaknesses, etc.

    In a perfect world, we would have understood how weak the Soviets were. We would have understood Beria of all people was prepared to explore more flexibility with the West. We would have seen the shoe banging and missile threats as empty bluster to hide weakness.

    We would have followed Kennan’s original ‘X’ prescription of nuanced containment rather than as we both discussed before Nitze’s NSC-68. But the Soviets are not blameless here. 1948 did happen. The Aegean problem was real. China did fall. Stalin did sign off on 1950. We did fight Russian pilots in MiGs over Korea.

    _______

    So, to wrap up, we agree and agreed back then the Soviet Union defeated and broke the back of the Wehrmacht. British and later American diversionary pin pricks in North Africa and the Italian and Normandy-Rhine campaigns a relative insignificance to the greatest, most destructive land war in history. (SOE’s lamentable insignificance doesn’t merit comment). Falaise – the much heralded Anglo-American ‘Big Battle’ would be just a two sentence aside in Lvov-Sandomierz, a subordinate clause in Bagration or Vistula-Oder, etc.

    It turns out that after 1991 Agency econometric (SOVMOD and other tools) analysis overstated Soviet economic reality by at least a third. It’s easy to bash retroactively. We knew personally and well many of those making those estimates and econometric models back in the day. Their task was so much more complicated than a tweet.

    We agree American intelligence has always been flawed for so many reasons, not least cultural and linguistic ignorance (relying on translations, no-incountry-experience, official cover, etc.) and obsession with technical gimmickry. We’ve been arguing for reform (not deck chair bureaucratic reform but internal cultural and operational reform) for decades. It’s telling beyond words that Gates, our alleged senior-most ‘Soviet’ expert, had never been there.

    Still, most critics — like what the Agency became by the 1980s and later — didn’t speak or read Russian, still don’t understand that the Soviet Union was the true Counter-Intelligence State (Cheney’s wet dream), or have a clue what it meant to operate and collecting information in such an unprecedented denied environment, etc.

    Contrary to popular ‘Leftist’ [sic] paranoia about CIA, it was almost always the voice of relative liberalism and skepticism compared to DoD. It was also over matched in resources, clout and power by OSD and the services. Whether debunking bomber gaps, missile gaps, etc. re Soviets or contesting MACV’s assessments.

    Flaws and all, that CIA died a long time ago. Its corpse staggered on before Tenet led its tatters into a funeral pyre.
    Dr Leo Strauss recently posted..Neal Stephenson’s Take On Saving The Novel

  5. rkka says

    “Americans aren’t completely hopeless. After WW II we examined the then-novel notion of strategic surprise (Bolt Out Of Blue (BOOB)) attacks. We created intelligence entities largely from scratch or near scratch-larval levels – even before the Red Bomb in ’49.
    The attempt to reform the independent services in ’47 was a significant recognition that America fought at least 4 wars: (i) MacArthur’s; (ii) Nimitz’s; (iii) the Army in Europe; and (iv) the Eighth Air Force (avec Bomber Harris) and in the Pacific.”

    I’m not sure these were particularly Good Things, especially the BOOB paranoia. the idea that the USSR wanted, or was in any condition for, another war was ludicrous on its face.

    A perceptive observer at the time, a British Army officer who served on the British military mission to the USSR, minces no words.

    “Even in Russia, the land of immensities, it means that one in every twelve Russians alive in 1941, one In twelve men, women, and children, has died a violent death, in order that the others might resume their lives with a swing and, if possible, a flourish. And most of those fifteen million were adults.

    The survivors will not, of course, forget this. But we seem to have forgotten it. Because now, with this great country shattered, ravaged, and exhausted, with her people strained to the breaking-point, and with her adult manhood more than decimated-now, at this moment, there are many loud voices in the West crying out that another war is coming quickly and that this time the aggressor is Russia. And these voices, which cry out of a depth of imbecility, or ignorance, or unimaginativeness which is truly horrifying to contemplate, are widely believed.”

    Edward Crankshaw-Russia and the Russians, 1948, pgs 200-201

    Imbecility, ignorance, unimaginitiveness. Of a depth which is truly horrifying to contemplate.

    Hallmarks of the postwar US foreign policy elite, from the get-go.

  6. Dr Leo Strauss says

    Aldershot :

    How do you think Hilldog would be handling things? Both in dealing with the Brass and the projection of force overseas?

    I understand, via an old Nation article by Hitch, that Big Dog got rolled by Powell over gays in the military.

    Adlershot, HRC probably would be more comfortable as Commander In Chief. Her persona initially would unsettle some like Obama. HRC is comfortable with power, likes power, likes using power. She’d have to overcome initial disrespect hiding pervasive misogyny not just in the military but across U.S. society. That would be the stand in for Movement race attacks on Obama. Just a different form of ugly.

    She has a better understanding of military culture and economics serving on the Senate Armed Services Committee. By all accounts she learned the DoD arcana well and forged lasting personal relationships with the military on their turf.

    Policy wise, she is likely within the ‘consensus think’ on adjustments – a few major changes but mostly incremental adjustments under ‘do it smarter’. The attempt to ‘reset’ (please spell it correctly this time) with Medvedev? Same. Scale back BMD. Same. Iraq drawdown? Same.

    re Afghanistan that’s the open question. Doubt her political mind would allow herself to be boxed in as Obama: surge in troops and build a state where none has ever existed in 18 months, then withdraw right before a presidential election. That’s a rookie move. Would she have gone the other way, full in?

    What we have now is the worst of all possible worlds. The alleged Rationalist/Progressive/Non-Rightist ‘A Team’ politically discredited and in disarray, no coordinated political effort to play offense on almost anything for 2 years as the Right emerged. Obama left the playing field wide open, only emboldening them. HRC might have fumbled on Afghanistan or she could have cut losses if she had at least Gates but ideally one more Republican in the Cabinet.

    She understands the Movement, how it thinks, and watched one president take them on and beat them. Could she do that in a failing economy? We don’t know. We do know this crowd didn’t bother to try.

  7. says

    @Aldershot
    Yeah, that Jan Brewer performance. Amazing. Given Arizona and the electorate, we’d wager a cold beverage she still wins. Hope to be surprised.

    Carly definitely is feeling wind at her back that we didn’t see even 3 months ago. After a fairly ineffectual attempt to play a role in the McCain campaign, her humiliation and marginal rehabilitation post-HP in the tech word appeared stalled. Not so. This August she again is a reigning star at tech elite gatherings. it’s really stunning, the turn around.

    She was a rock star last time as charismatic HP CEO selling Gilder-esque nonsense. This time she is a scold and vengeful angel. Her darker hair completely in sync with the new persona. We say that not as patronizing gender aside but as a considered aesthetic judgment. We never thought we’d see tech elites turn on a dime for her.

    Some of the Movement independent expenditure groups supporting her (initially just to defeat Tom Campbell in the primary, a hated ‘squish’) have told the Stiftung they don’t actually believe she is really pro-life or even a ‘true’ conservative. This from senior-most decision makers.

    They don’t care. Carly is a proxy first to take down Boxer. If she turns out to be another ‘squish’ she can’t be worse for them than Boxer. Second, she will owe them. Third, a lot of the Movement independent expenditure groups are using 2010 to burnish their prestige for 2012. There’s cachet for Movement groups to market themselves as we’re the ones who took out Boxer.

    And Carly has stepped into the role as challenger well, better than we expected. Can Boxer paint her as the diva CEO who sent thousands of jobs to India and China? Will it make a difference. Senator Fiorina are two words we never expected to type together here.
    Dr Leo Strauss recently posted..Neal Stephenson’s Take On Saving The Novel

  8. Aldershot says

    Great analysis, Doc.

    How do you think Hilldog would be handling things? Both in dealing with the Brass and the projection of force overseas?

    I understand, via an old Nation article by Hitch, that Big Dog got rolled by Powell over gays in the military.

  9. Aldershot says

    What did we think of the Fiorina/Boxer debate…I only saw a short clip, but Carly was cleaning clock.

    And Jan Brewer’s [fill in the blank]. Whoa.

  10. Dr Leo Strauss says

    @rkka

    Great point. it’s true, Americans historically go for willful amnesia all the way back to Manifest Destiny and its precursor elements. Obama thus ought to be especially careful in his exercise of authority now – so many institutions have vested interests in all just ‘turning the page’ and moving on (as it were).

    If Obama’s handling of alleged war crimes and torture is any indication, he’ll punt here, too. Depending on the snap, it may be a deep punt.

    ___

    Warning – Longer Details To Follow

    Americans aren’t completely hopeless. After WW II we examined the then-novel notion of strategic surprise (Bolt Out Of Blue (BOOB)) attacks. We created intelligence entities largely from scratch or near scratch-larval levels – even before the Red Bomb in ’49.

    The attempt to reform the independent services in ’47 was a significant recognition that America fought at least 4 wars: (i) MacArthur’s; (ii) Nimitz’s; (iii) the Army in Europe; and (iv) the Eighth Air Force (avec Bomber Harris) and in the Pacific.

    The 1947 Act creating a Joint Chiefs of Staff was a good try. It failed until Goldwater Nichols in ’86 on the military side, and on the intel side, it’s still a CF. We all discussed here at the time our views on Community reform effort. We even took the rare step of piping up in national print media at the time.

    Even so, as we pointedly said to Wilkerson’s face at his over late, initial mea culpa-debutante twirl, statutes and laws mean squat without the people to give them meaning. i.e, Goldwater -Nichols is useless if Chairman Myers or Pace are modern Keitels. Or on the other side, if Tenet is an approval-seeking lap dog. Or if viral ideology subverts a process-obsessed bureaucracy – which is exactly how they stamped ‘tattoo you’ on General Jello and Wilkerson’s foreheads.

    Vietnam did lead to some significant military introspection. Harry Summers and the ‘We Never Lost A Battle’ crowd were a vocal minority. General Jello’s age cohort’s reaction reflected the majority view – never again, and don’t screw around.

    As we’ve discussed, Shy Meyer created the AVF as tripwire to prevent an Iraq or Afghanistan. He restructured the Army to force a President to activate the national guard and thus require a national popular mandate. Meyer and others at the time all thought in terms of mass armies. His noble effort couldn’t foresee a duplicitous Administration governing through AgitProp deploying a self-sufficent, relatively small expeditionary force. That happens to use indiscriminately firepower more lethal than any MACV fantasy.

    re Korea, well we nationally cop to it as the Forgotten War. Inchon is dimmed by MacArthur’s dismissal. And no one wants to talk about Marines retreating in rout from Chosin, freezing and starving helpless without POL. Besides, what’s the lesson? Have a Secretary of State be more careful when giving speeches purporting to paint American security frontiers and omitting, say, Korea? Or pay more attention to Chinese signaling as troops approached their borders? Don’t ignore the Indians who at the time we saying, Peking thinks you should know that . . .?

    We’re not as bad as the British though. What a bluff they pulled for almost 40 years, managing to con the non-Soviet world that victory in WW II ran from June 1940, the Battle of Britain, El Alamein, the Battle of the Atlantic, to Normandy, Monty’s sabotage by ignorant Americans and then Ike’s foolish handover of Berlin to the Reds.

    You’re right that Americans have even more incentives to banish these two failed wars to blissful amnesia. The shared guilt is overwhelming. The American people knowingly outsourced this war from the abuse of the AVF to uncontrolled private armies and blatant reconstruction fraud. Like it or not, 2004 was largely a plebiscite on aggressive war. Thumbs up at the time. .

    All of which is the detail for explaining why the stakes of ignoring the military’s failure are so high. It’s not just the typical blame game, but also the miltary’s failure to synchronize with the American people as Shy Meyer intended with a shared burden.

    Iraq can not be compared to the German or Japanese occupations, contra Cher Condi and the Old Regime. Still, if one is familiar with how SCAP operated internally from September 1945 in Tokyo through its eventual windup post MacArthur’s departure, it’s inconceivable that the same Nation allowed all to happen in Iraq. What the military allowed to happen to it as an institution is equally unfathomable. Then the military internal institutional, intellectual (doctrinal) and operational failure. What they and the private armies did in our name is still a dark secret lying in open sight.

  11. rkka says

    “As a nation we can’t allow the military to skate examination of their incompetence, prevarications, and most importantly responsibility for the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of innocents.”

    um… Why not? When have we done otherwise post-1865?

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