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Thread: "Replace Petraeus"-Fred Branfman

  1. #41
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    Default Why America gets blamed...

    One of the questions I had before is why do a lot of Americans continue to hate and blame America? I think it comes from the post-modern disillusionment this country has been living in since World War II. In art history I noticed, the focus of a lot of modern art became the theme of "death, decay, darkness etc," whereas Western art from the Renesannce focused on the eternal, the spiritual the beautiful. This preoccupation with death and decay is largely a modern phoenomena it seems from my study of art history. Then what really cemented the post-modern disillusionment was the Vietnam War, possibly. You got the liberal realists who were pessesmists, many of whom became liberal professors hiding out in academia. From the liberal realists, people then get further divided into identity politics, seeing themselves as separate minority groups who blame society completely for their problems. Seeing the criminal as a victim of society, rather than the criminal's bad behavior that got him/her in trouble is another symptom of post-modern thinking.

    I know I've thrown out theory, but this is my way of trying to understand why the times we live in don't make sense and people continue to blame America. Life isn't perfect, it never will be, but what makes this country great, is that we believe there a better future is possible.

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    I know nothing of art history. Another verification of the preoccupation you write of. I've always had a fascination with abandoned urban sites. I think they are called brownfield sites.
    Quote Originally Posted by yamiyugikun View Post
    One of the questions I had before is why do a lot of Americans continue to hate and blame America? I think it comes from the post-modern disillusionment this country has been living in since World War II. In art history I noticed, the focus of a lot of modern art became the theme of "death, decay, darkness etc," whereas Western art from the Renesannce focused on the eternal, the spiritual the beautiful. This preoccupation with death and decay is largely a modern phoenomena it seems from my study of art history. Then what really cemented the post-modern disillusionment was the Vietnam War, possibly. You got the liberal realists who were pessesmists, many of whom became liberal professors hiding out in academia. From the liberal realists, people then get further divided into identity politics, seeing themselves as separate minority groups who blame society completely for their problems. Seeing the criminal as a victim of society, rather than the criminal's bad behavior that got him/her in trouble is another symptom of post-modern thinking.

    I know I've thrown out theory, but this is my way of trying to understand why the times we live in don't make sense and people continue to blame America. Life isn't perfect, it never will be, but what makes this country great, is that we believe there a better future is possible.

  3. #43
    Council Member Blackjack's Avatar
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    Here are a few things I thought about after wasting some of my lunch hour reading that article.

    Whos Command, Who's Strategy?
    Throughout the article the author incorrectly holds General Patreaus responsible for percieved failures in Afghanistan as CENTCOM Comander. The chief problem with many of these accusations is that General Patreaus did not assume command of CENTCOM until 31 October 2009. The policy of using UAVs for kinetic strikes in Pakistan has been a matter of policy since 2004. How can a commander be held responsible for the actions of a higher headquarters strategy, let alone a higher headquartes he was not in command of?

    Another thing we should ask ourselves here. Is it truly the strategy of General Patraeus? No, it is simply the continuation of a strategy that existed prior to his command of CENTCOM that has been in place since 2004, and approved by both President Bush, and President Obama. General Patraeus chose to continue the policy, but the approval for the policy came with the stamp of approval from the current, and former POTUS as well as the DCI and JCS.

    The Swat Valley
    The push into Pakistan's core by the Taliban is in part the result of religious and tribal friction coupled with a weak Pakistani central government. A corrupt intelligence agency that has strong ties to the Taliban and other Islamist entities does not help matters.

    The quotes from the Times, regurgitated by Fred Bramfren, suggests kinetic strikes by UAVs as the primary cause of the Taliban's movement into the Swat Valley. The article fails to mention any other reasons why the Taliban may have wished to move into the Swat Valley. For example, the fact that the Swat Valley is home to some of the most lucrative emerald mines in the world. Mines the Taliban started exploiting as soon as they got a foothold in the valley.

    Another good reason for the Taliban to move into the Swat Valley is the key stratigic location. The valley would provide an excellent base of operations site for any future attacks on Islamabad. It could also be used as a logistics hub for operations in Afghanistan and Kashmir. In fact, the Taliban invaded neighboring provinces in violation of the ceasefire a short time afer it was signed.

    The Taliban were already strong in Pakistan, propped up by the ISI and other officials in nearly every sector of the Pakistani government who could not protect their own people. And that is the best case scenerio. The worst case scenerio is that the Tlaiban has the tacit support of the people.

    A Look at the Warizistan UAV Strikes.
    Let us take a more in depth look at just one of these UAV strikes, which occurred on April 19 2009 and was reported by the BBC on 20 April 2009. The strike was targeted against a top Taliban commander's compound in Warizistan. Warizistan has long ties to the Taliban and other groups belligerent to the US.

    It may not be comfortable, or populer, but given the ambiguous nature of what is and is not a combatant that the entire Warizistan district could reasonably be considered a belligerent party engaged in war against the United States, and it's interests in the Af/Pak area of operations.
    Through experience and observation I have come to the conclusion that relatives and neighbors of the various terrorist entities as their version Combat Support and Service and Support elements of the vast majority Mujahideen groups. This would make them legitimate military targets would it not?

    Another possibility here is that the residents of Warizistan are being held hostage in their own lands by the Taliban, and other groups hostile to the US. Some 200 makiks have appearently been killed after makign attemppts to oust the Mujahideen from their lands. If this is the case the Pakistani government should make attempts to free them from the Taliban. Either way Pakistan is sailing away on the failboat when it comes to dealing with their own internal problems.

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    Default Blackjack, you raise two good points for discussion....

    It may not be comfortable, or populer, but given the ambiguous nature of what is and is not a combatant that the entire Warizistan district could reasonably be considered a belligerent party engaged in war against the United States, and it's interests in the Af/Pak area of operations.
    Leaving aside any issues of Paki sovereignty over that part of FATA, there is no doubt that AQ-Taliban and associated groups (following the construct of the 2001 AUMF) constitute a "Power" to the armed conflict in the Wari agencies. Where those designated "hostile forces" have control of territory and populace, that territory and populace are belligerent to us - just as Germany and Japan were belligerent nations in WWII. However, as you also point out, they (the general populace) may be more an occupied population than active supporters of the hostile forces (so, are they Germany Proper, Occupied France or something in between ?).

    No matter which scenario is fact, the Laws of War still require distinction between combatants and civilians (much more difficult where the combatants melt into the civilians); and consideration of proportionality in targeting (e.g., to eradicate a given group of combatants, how many civilians will be killed ?). Thus, the Wari agencies cannot be a free fire zone.

    Through experience and observation I have come to the conclusion that relatives and neighbors of the various terrorist entities as their version Combat Support and Service and Support elements of the vast majority Mujahideen groups. This would make them legitimate military targets would it not?
    I'd say that infrastructure - the informal "Combat Support and Service and Support elements" - should be considered combatants; but then I agreed with that aspect of the Phoenix program. To be candid, I think that is a minority position - at least legally.

    I am curious about what the folks here think of that - not so much as a legal point (although it can be argued that way); but as a metter of military ethics and military practicality. How do you distinguish these infrastructure folks from the rest of the population - assuming that you can legally target them ? I suppose intelligence, intelligence & intelligence.

    The various Gitmo and Bagram detainee cases could impact all of this. These cases are not that important in and of themselves. But, their rules as to the status of "captures" should be the same as for status allowing or not allowing "kills". So far, there seems a tendency to distinguish between armed combatants and unarmed supporters - and to consider the latter as being civilians (not subject to "kill rules"; and subject to detention only if guilty of a crime).

  5. #45
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmm99 View Post
    I'd say that infrastructure - the informal "Combat Support and Service and Support elements" - should be considered combatants; but then I agreed with that aspect of the Phoenix program. To be candid, I think that is a minority position - at least legally.

    I am curious about what the folks here think of that - not so much as a legal point (although it can be argued that way); but as a metter of military ethics and military practicality. How do you distinguish these infrastructure folks from the rest of the population - assuming that you can legally target them ? I suppose intelligence, intelligence & intelligence.
    That is why I keep talking about the 3F's Family,Friends and Finances criminal/gangs are exactly like that. It is also how you fill out the 5 rings map as opposed to the traditional way if you want to understand the system in an unconventional/covert type situation.

  6. #46
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    I am curious about what the folks here think of that - not so much as a legal point (although it can be argued that way); but as a metter of military ethics and military practicality. How do you distinguish these infrastructure folks from the rest of the population - assuming that you can legally target them ?
    That is the question I keep asking myself about these situations. To me, Lawfare is foolish and suicidal in the current small wars that western powers are engaged in. What do you do with the member of a group like HIG who goes out and attacks a convoy with an SVD in the morning, and is sheltered by his family in the evening? What do you do when the village leaders, or tribal leadership are sheltering the man? How do you deal with the four guys in the UK or US who send him $1,000 USD a year to buy ammunition, take care of his family, etc. Al lwhile he is trying to kill ISAF troops, HTT persons and contractors? Do we have to rethink the ethics of warfighting because of these types of enemies and their supporters?

    These are soem questions with no easy answer and they bothered me last night. I really need to have a long, hard think on it again.

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    Default Agreed - tough questions ...

    but they really go to the core of whatever approach is taken to these violent non-state actors (irregular fighters and their supporters), whether that approach be solely kinetic (direct actions), or totally populace-centric (isolating the bad guys from the population via non-violent means), or a combination of both.

    This discussion has been going on in the military law world since the JAG School published its treatise on irregular combatants in the 1959 JAG Treatise, A TREATISE ON THE JURIDICAL BASIS OF THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN LAWFUL COMBATANT AND UNPRIVILEGED BELLIGERENT (JAG School 1959).

    Questions of law and ethics came to the fore in the GVN Pacification Program (1967-1972), which included CORDS and Phoenix. Brigadier General Tran Dinh Tho, author of "The Cambodian Incursion", Washington DC: U.S. Army Center of Military History, 1979, earlier (1977) wrote "Pacification", which can be downloaded in its entirety here. Chapter 4 (4 RVN-US Cooperation and Coordination in Pacification (441 KB pdf) deals with Phoenix and related programs.

    Contrary to popular belief, the Phoenix term "neutralize" (used of VC infrastructure) did not exclusively mean "kill". The program was a "kill, capture or convert" program, which during 1967-1972 had very close to a 1/3, 1/3 and 1/3 "kill, capture or convert" ratio.

    The greatest problem with Phoenix was positive and reliable identification of who the VC infrastructure were. False IDs in a COIN situation are obviously counter-productive. The negative results in the program were used, of course, to discredit it and the entire CORDS effort.

    You might consider reading these old resources, which dealt with very similar questions to those that we see now in Astan.

  8. #48
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blackjack View Post
    is sheltered by his family in the evening? What do you do when the village leaders, or tribal leadership are sheltering the man? How do you deal with the four guys in the UK or US who send him $1,000 USD a year to buy ammunition, take care of his family, etc. Al lwhile he is trying to kill ISAF troops, HTT persons and contractors? Do we have to rethink the ethics of warfighting because of these types of enemies and their supporters?

    These are soem questions with no easy answer and they bothered me last night. I really need to have a long, hard think on it again.

    You are right about it being a moral question. I would ask who's population are we supposed to protect?....it was supposed to be Americans!!!!!! that is why we started all this to begin with. We may have to set priorities and make hard choices very soon that should have been made before we started all this and we should have made emergency amendments to the legal agreements we are in because of the extreme nature of our enemy.

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    Default The present agreements ...

    the GCs, as accepted by the US, if applied according to the nature of the armed conflicts and the hostile forces involved in those armed conflicts, are not a huge problem.

    What has been a problem is adaptation to the situations in which we have been involved. Since 9/11, the US (both Bush II and Obama administrations) has sought to develop a coherent set of rules to deal with the irregular combatants we face. Like any learning process (e.g., consider the development of national policies in the Cold War, from Truman through Reagan), it has had its ups and downs.

    We are still very much in the early "lessons learned" stage in development of the Law of War (LOAC) applicable to violent non-state actors and their supporters.

    I can't imagine negotiating a common set of "emergency agreements" with the members of the various coalitions since 9/11 - much less with the other High Contracting Parties to the GCs and the various NGOs that would stick in their two cents worth.

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    Default This is terrible

    If any of you got to the point where he takes Kilcullen's and Exum's statements waaay out of context and then still proceeded to read on, then you wasted your time.

    Kilcullen (and uncited co-author Exum) was calling U.S. Drone policy a strategic error. This guy claims Kilcullen was calling U.S. policy a strategic error. This is so factually incorrect that it crosses the line of journalism and into propoganda. I don't care what his political affiliations are, he is wrong in this regard.

    After such a breach of integrity as this, I would think further consideration and discussion of this topic is pointless.

  11. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmm99 View Post
    I can't imagine negotiating a common set of "emergency agreements" with the members of the various coalitions since 9/11 - much less with the other High Contracting Parties to the GCs and the various NGOs that would stick in their two cents worth.
    jmm, I wouldn't negotiate, I would make a statement saying we will do our best to follow them (laws) but, the enemy has no regard for any laws and is attempting to seek a military advantage by subverting them. If civilians cooperate and shield and support our enemies we will do what we need to do to protect our interest and population not anyone else's. As an example Malaya was never called a "War" it was called the Emergency and any laws and or polices that needed to be changed were changed until things were brought under control.

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    Default Petraeus article

    Articles like this serve a very important function for anyone frequenting a list like this, they give you a good peak into how diverse people think, how they make their assumptions (mostly subconciously) and they reflect opinions which often go unchallenged, or worse excepted as reasoned analysis, in the circles they travel. Such ideas, as painful as they may be and as painful as it may be to engage their owners (like the Branfman guy), MUST be engaged. Remember, they tend to think much the same of many of us...although I would hope we would be polite in our discourse with them. One problem, of course, with this approach is that sometimes these folk confuse engagement with validation. So one has to choose one's engagements carefully. sounds a bit like war, doesn't it?

    jkuehn
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigdukesix101 View Post
    I've been studying Iraq for so long (and it is FAR from over)its been a real pain to start over on Afghanistan, I've finished the 2 books mentioned and am half way thru "Descent into Chaos" -A.Rashid(best of the lot so far) and starting Kilcullen's 'Accidential Guerrilla." The new issue of Military Heritage has a good article on Russia's disaster in Afgh.

    A quick thought: Gen. Petraeus wants to expand the Afghan Army to 134,000 and the police to 82,000 at a yearly cost of roughly 4B. Afgh TOTAL intake in taxes is $800m!
    I did the study abroad program and got my Associates degree in Iraq thanks to the United States Army Cavalry exchange program. My first semester started in 2003. How about yours?

    I agree with 120mm. Those who start BS posts and don't answer the questions presented to them usually find themselves in another thread. A thread that has giant rocks (perhaps a metaphor) with people's names on them.

    Good luck.
    Example is better than precept.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RTK View Post
    I did the study abroad program and got my Associates degree in Iraq thanks to the United States Army Cavalry exchange program. My first semester started in 2003. How about yours?

    I agree with 120mm. Those who start BS posts and don't answer the questions presented to them usually find themselves in another thread. A thread that has giant rocks (perhaps a metaphor) with people's names on them.

    Good luck.

    Hey mate

    I was up by your old stomping ground in Tal Afar last week.

    Best
    Tom

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    Council Member RTK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
    Hey mate

    I was up by your old stomping ground in Tal Afar last week.

    Best
    Tom
    Tom!

    Hope the old neighborhood is in tip top shape.

    Life's good just south of y'all down here in the Magic Kingdom.

    Stay safe.

    RTK
    Example is better than precept.

  16. #56
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    Default How dumb

    The writer's woolly-headedness is evident when he uses the "supposed success of the surge [in Iraq]" to denigrate GEN P's previous accomplishments then argues that previous success are not indicative of future success. If previous success is not a guide, how about previous failure? By the author's standard, GEN P actually is qualified, but his thesis is that P is not ... What a load.

  17. #57
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    Default Sigh...

    I haven't read the article yet. Does the author provide a list of three or so Generals who would do better at CENTCOM, supported with resume points and quotes? Does he explain where the CENTCOM commander fits in the chain of command? Or is it assumed the average Huffington Post reader is well acquainted with these mundane details?

    But seriously folks... there are those who see Petraeus as political candidate, and tremble at the thought. (More so than at the thought of AfPakIraq in flames.) I suspect our author is one, I believe we'll be seeing more in the future. Pity, that.

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