National Security Experts


Col. W. Patrick Lang

Biography provided by participant

Colonel W. Patrick Lang is a retired senior officer of U.S. Military Intelligence and U.S. Army Special Forces (The Green Berets). He served in the Department of Defense both as a serving officer and then as a member of the Defense Senior Executive Service for many years. He is a highly decorated veteran of several of America's overseas conflicts including the war in Vietnam. He was trained and educated as a specialist in the Middle East by the U.S. Army and served in that region for many years. He was the first Professor of the Arabic Language at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. In the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) he was the "Defense Intelligence Officer for the Middle East, South Asia and Terrorism," and later the first Director of the Defense Humint Service." For his service in DIA, he was awarded the "Presidential Rank of Distinguished Executive." This is the equivalent of a British knighthood. He is an analyst consultant for many television and radio broadcasts, among them the Jim Lehrer "Newshour."

Recent Responses

June 26, 2012 01:07 PM

Eternal optimism based on ignorance and wishful thinking seems to be the birthright of most Americans. Mursi can be a friend of the US? Mursi will be a friend of women's rights and the Copts? Mursi will not try to install his version of Sharia once he achieves enough real power? An Islamist Egypt will remain in the Israeli treaty permanently? The Obama Administration thinks these things are likely because Mursi was elected in a reasonably honest election?

Cetain political parties are self described as "Islamist" because that is what they want their constituencies to know they intend as their focus. The MB is an Islamist party. It has existed for eighty years for the specific purpose of transforming Egypt (and various other countries) into theocracies constructed according to their belief as to what Islam is.

1959 was the year that Castro came to power in Cuba. His rule was widely welcomed among many Americans as a triumph of the people's will over the dictator Batista. Great things were expected from Castro's rule; democracy, "progress,"

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June 18, 2012 04:13 PM

I would have thought that the resumption of traditional forms of governance in Egypt and the present chaos in Libya would have served to discourage neo-Wilsonians in their starry eyed desire to "engineer" a new Middle East, but the recent statements from the State Department indicate that the hope for miracles still endures. We all would love to see "good government" arrive on the scene in Syria. Such a splendid development seems unlikely for several reasons.

What is ongoing in Syria is not simply a matter of removing Bashar Assad from power. He heads one side of a "national" split in the population that aligns most of the Sunni Arab population against most of the Alawi, the Shia,the Christians and Sunni business groups in Syria. The opposition began as a movement led by semi-westernised liberals. It has steadily evolved toward becoming a movement of Sunni Islamists in which the liberals are more or less "along for the ride." (for now) It is clear that the most of the Syrian armed forces will "stick with" the present

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June 5, 2012 06:24 PM

I remember Wayne's visit well. His experience of near death at the hands of the "friendly" Yemen Air force was not unusual. Crashes on take-off were commonplace events, especially in the MIG-21, evidently an unforgiving vehicle. There were many tragi-comical events.that happened during my time there. They included the time I watched a Yemeni pilot fly an MI-8 helicopter into a parked truck on take off. He never really "powered up."The Yemeni commander present berated the Soviet advisor on the scene for the "shoddy equipment."

AQAP is an organization largely made up of non-Yemeni Sunni zealot exiles. As Wayne says there is some resentment among Sunni Yemeni villagers in the south of the coutry towards the dominant Fiver Shia Yemeni tribesmen in the north of the country. Al-Hadi, the present president is a Sunni Southerner. He is leading the fight against the AQAP because they are clearly a disturbing foreign element seeking an Islamic evolution.

This should be a war of intelligence, US drone strikes against personalities and an

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June 5, 2012 08:47 AM

I was the Defense Attache in Sanaa, North Yemen a generation ago and have returned a number of times to survey the country both before and after unification with South Yemen. When I served in Sanaa, the country was embroiled in a guerrilla war against insurgents sponsored from Aden in the south. In that war the forces of the YAR (north) demonstrated a level of ineptitude that often surprised even as they sought to use the vast array of modern equipment "sold" to them on credit by the USSR, the United States, the UK and various other countries ni the Warsaw Pact and NATO. The Saudis were more forthright in their donations. They simply bought US made F-5 fighters and gave them to the Yemenis along with Taiwanese Air Force people in Saudi Air Force uniform for the purpose of maintaining the fighters. The Saudies also paid for USAF trainers to teach the Yemenis to fly the aircraft. Among the other "goodies" collected by the Yemenis for use in their war against the wily National Democratic Front were, C-130 "Hercules" four engine transport aircraft

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March 15, 2012 10:42 AM

In the aftermath of the gross crime committed against Afghan villagers by a US soldier, the brass hats and policy wonks in and out of government persist in thinking that we can do whatever we want in Afghanistan and that the Afghans have no ability to act against us. This is the kind of hubristic nonsense that led to our downfall in Iraq.

Presiedent Karzai ("our" guy) has now said he wants our troops out of their rural and populated areas and basically confined to cantonments. The Taliban have broken off negotiations with us. They will be back. They want us gone and the easiest way to get rid of us is to make a deal with us.

In the Pentagon the military functionaries and politically appointed civilians will refuse to believe that the "wogs" can order us out of their country but they can and did so in Iraq.

The media in the US are obsessed with basketball games and the GOP primary circus. They are not paying attention to this. Why? Simple. They do not understand anything that that they did not learn in journalism school.


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March 14, 2012 09:02 AM

I judge this crime to be the "work" of a man or men (who knows at this point?) who lost his way under the pressure of; too much combat stress, too much family separation, and physical trauma in "line of duty." Is that justification? No, but it probably adds up to an explanation. Where were his leaders? Where were his platoon leader, company commander, first sergeant, etc. up the chain of command? Wherever they were, they obviously failed to lead.

The Afghans will continue to howl for his blood. It is in their nature and their culture to do that. In Kandahar the mob is literally howling for the blood of the "crusaders," and "infidels." They are burning models of the cross. Do the political science "types" think these actions are sublimations of deeper feelings of nationalism and alienation from a stratified economy? We should not be deceived. We have reached a point in Afghanistan at which whatever chance there was of forming an alliance of convenience that would allow the continuation of a CT campaign from with

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March 6, 2012 04:51 PM

I don't see any point in proposing measures that are completely outside the realm of the possible.

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March 6, 2012 11:47 AM

The meetings with the Executive Branch are mostly ended. The wild chanting of the maenads at the AIPAC conference are stilled for a time. The devotees disperse to their abodes on the left and right coasts, and Chicago. All is left is the "Triumph" of Natanyahu before the Congress. Garlands will be scattered before him. Some suitable victim will be reviled. Dempsey would do. In olden times the victim would have been strangled once the arena was reached. In these days symbolic destruction is the available means with which to express victory over opponents. Perhaps Eric Cantor can whisper in Bibi's ear that he is human.

Actually, I do not think Bibi won much on this trip. The president's AIPAC speech and rhe "swordplay" in the Oval Office looked very "tongue in cheek" to me. Bibi once again lectured the president/commander in chief before the world, but that is a privilege that may have a high cost in the new year..Paraphraing Bibi, he said that Israel must exist because only Jews can be trusted to protect Jews. He also said that Isr

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February 29, 2012 11:33 AM

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February 27, 2012 06:54 PM

I don't think Syria can be discussed in isolation from; American policies, Afghanistan, Somalia, Egypt, etc. If no one else expands this discussion, I will.

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February 27, 2012 12:02 PM

Americans love to personalize their wars. Hitler, Tojo, Ho Chi Minh, Saddam, Qathafi, Mubarak and now Bashar Assad; they were all the epitome of whatever we were fighting. We love to think in broad generalizatoins and in terms of slogans that belong on the backs of cereal boxes rather. than in policy debates.

We insist on believing that the peoples of the Middle East and Central Asia are "little brown brothers" who are innocently waiting for liberation from oppression, waiting for the day when they will be given the chance to recognize our benevolence, take our development money and emerge from the "shell" of their "primitive" ways into the sunlight of westernization and modernity.

Somehow this view of the world is not working well for us. Egypt is an emerging Islamist state in which power will be shared between the Islamists and the generals who take our money and then put democracy activists on trial. Iraq is a country in which we brokered the creation of a state run by former Shia Islamist activists and in which we were "sho

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February 14, 2012 05:54 PM

Too often the discussion in Washingon of this and other "big people" topics tends to be about the rules accepted for re-arranging the deck chairs rather than basic issues. This reflects the degree to which the foreign policy and defense affairs cliques now dominate the processes.

The armed services' lobbying activities further complicate the effort. Oh, don't tell me that the services do not lobby the Congress. The do, even on behalf of their favorite projects and contractors. If you want to call it "liaison," feel free to do so.

We need to reduce the budget deficit radically. We need to be safe from foreign enemies.

To do that we need to get rid of the Bush tax cuts and let "job creators" struggle along in the way that Buffett recommends. We also need to stop fighting major wars of choice overseas however satisfying and profitable they have been for some. Take a break, folks, ten years or so to think things over and re-construct the ground forces and the lives of thse who have fought.

We are esse

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February 7, 2012 11:26 AM

The argument for a fighting mission for NATO, as opposed to a supporting, mission in Afghanistan rests on the foundation that Afghan society will be profoundly changed by the continuing NATO pacification program. There is little evidence for the proof of this idea. The statement by various interested parties in the NATO and US chains of command should be thought of as advocacy for the courses of action that those chains of command have pushed for. People largely believe what they want to believe and military subordinates (like civilian subordinates) usually tell their bosses what they think the bosses want to hear. That is one of the major ways that one becomes a general offcer. Reporting failure in an operation is always personalized as personal admission of failure. This further inhibits the admission of failure.

In Afghanistan, there are few signs of basic acculturation toward widespread acceptance of the notion of the nation-state. Improved performance in the field by the Afghan security forces would be one indicator of such change, but there is little of that.

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January 25, 2012 12:19 PM

We have an interesting set of choices in this year's elections. For these choices I would recommend an excursion through Barabara Tuchman's "The Proud Tower." This book describes the world as it was from 1900 to 1912. The period we are now in seems similar to that one in some ways and not in others.

The Democrats today are a Center-Left party in love with social welfare, the social safety net and filled with resentment for the moneyed class (unless they belong to it). They are internationalists who are averse to military action except in the clearest circumstance. i.e., kill bin Laden, suppress African revolutionaries of the more egregious varieties, rescue hostages in Somalia, etc. Their leader claims to be like the Democrats but seems to be more like a liberal Republican of the dimly remembered Eisenhower/Rockefeller variety.

The Republicans of today's mainstream long ago hunted down and largely exterminated Republicans of that type, and have harried scattered surviving centrist Republicans through the Shire while denouncing them as RINOs. Today'

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January 19, 2012 09:35 AM

Bob Baer is right. The answer to this question mostly lives in Tel Aviv. In that city the answer is not in all Israeli heads. It is specifically in Bibi's head, that of his foreign minister, a few more Likud squirrels and maybe Barak, who ought to know better than to back something as risky as an air/missile capmpaign against Iran. The IDF's general staff and its intelligence branch are against it. They know that Israel alone lacks the strength to do a thorough job with conventional weapons. For that reason we see an intense Israeli and sympathiser effort in the US to shape US opinion in favor of a US attack rather than an Israeli one. The effort continues but so far has not produced the desired effect anywhere except the Republican circus. So, the answer also "lives" in the heads of Obama, Panetta and Dempsey.

I have written repeatedly of the "fever chart" of US/Israeli/Iranian relations and the varying prospect for war. Writing about this is a bit like predicting an asteroid "hit" on this planet. Eventually, the prophet is likely

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January 9, 2012 10:41 PM

"Let us recall that at the height of our deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, little more than 1/3 of our troops were engaged." Yes, that is correct for the percentage deployed at one time. To maintain that force deployed required a much higher percentage; in the pipeline; stood down for leave, training, etc. Very long deployments are quite different in their logisitcal and personnel implications from something that lasts a few months. These deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan should be viewed as a continuum over some ten years, not as a "snapshot" in time. In the same way it requires more aircraft carrier battle groups to maintain a presence than those deployed at any one time.

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January 9, 2012 10:57 AM

I have thought that the kind of retrenchment in Defense that is envisioned in this new strategy document is entirely apropriate. I will not repeat the points in your introduction to the question. I agree with them. A re-alignment in emphasis of this kind must be introduced in small doses. The political scene in the US demands that. The awkward truth buried in this strategy is that the suggested conventional force reductions will inevitably be a beginning and not an end. These reductions are a first step that will lead to much, much smaller ground forces.

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December 21, 2011 08:58 AM

I hear from friends in the Joint Staff that many there are "bitching" about the recently completed American troop withdrawal from Iraq. They point to the imminent collapse of the supposedly effective "coalition" government to justify their complaints. The lead editorial of today's Washington Post takes up this theme as well in defense of the brave new Iraq that the neocon friends of the newspaper wrought.

The truth is that the GW Bush Administration made deals with Maliki and company that made and largely baseless statements about future US/Iraqi alignment as allies against the world and that also set in concrete the departure date that has just been reached.

At the time, the same offciers were content to accept the presumption that the US would be able to cajole/threaten/bully the Iraqi government into relaxing the requirement for withdrawal. The main stream media with its usual ignorance, clearly believed the same thing. The level of paternalistic dismissal in this of the Iraqis as adults with their own goals and schemes is breathtaking.

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December 20, 2011 11:37 AM

Sidney, you misunderstood me. This will not be Iran, but rather a specifically Iraqi Shia version of sectarian rule. Not surprisingly this will e resisted by the non-Shia. On a sectarian basis there are secular Shia in Iraq but they will not be included in the power setup. This emerging government will be the realm of the fuzzy faced.

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December 19, 2011 08:50 AM

The United States facilitated the installation of Shia Arab rule in Iraq. Remember the festival of the Purple Thumbs in The Year Zero. One man, one vote in the Middle East normally means that the one man (or woman) votes for representatives of his or her own ethno/religious group. The exceptions to this basic paradigm are parties that seek to obviate the traditional political and social categorization of people by ethno-religious group. The communists and various pan-Arab nationalist parties have fulfilled that role in the past. All such groups, including the hated Ba'ath Party have failed in their efforts to re-design these societies. This can be clearly seen in Egypt and Syria where a veneer of acculturated and westernized revolutionaries disguises what lies beneath. The minuscule representation that liberal secular parties will have in the new Egyptian parliament will speak volumes on this subject.

In Iraq, Nuri al-Maliki and his coalition of Shia politicians have accomplished much. They have succeeded in having the largest role among the Shia parties in relatio

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December 8, 2011 01:04 AM

Jiust a short note, Having had some occasion to contemplate detention of terrorist suspects, it strikes me as odd that the general public accepts the notion that those who are detained are necessarily guilty. Now, some certainly are and some who are extremely dangerous cannot be tried in any court because the evidence against them is contaminated by their having been treated as merely subjects for interrogation. Those are doomed no matter what their actions may or may not have been. Other prisoners in the GWOT are detained because some junior NCO or officer decided to "play it safe" and send them to GITMO or wherever. To do that carries no risk for the remanding officer and, in fact, contributes to good statistics which are often rewarded. In other words, not all detainees are guilty. Now, the senate has opened the door for wider detentions without due process including in CONUS, What a good idea!

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November 22, 2011 10:58 PM

The US reached the Pacific at the end of the 19th Century. Until we began to focus on Europe in the Wilsonian Age we understood that the Pacific and the rimlands of the Pacific were our remaining frontier. WWI and the Nazi and Soviet threats distracted us from that. Let us turn away from Europe and the ME. These are not our natural focus. The Europeans can take care of themselves now. The Soviets are gone.. israel should live or die on its own merits. We should watch the Islamic World for existential threats to the US. If they arise, then, then crush them. Study Chinese.

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November 9, 2011 05:28 PM

What? We're not good enough for the multitude here to debate us? I know many of you. What's the matter, afraid?

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November 8, 2011 01:29 PM

What we will hear in this debate is a contest among the candidates for expression of the most fulsome possible devotion to Israel, its welfare and happiness. As an auxiliary devotion, desire will be expressed for more money, force structure and primacy to be given to Defense within the US Government. More and better wars will be suggested as desirable. The contemptible Palestinians will be described as mad in that they wish to exceed the wishes of the Israelo/American controllers of the "peace process." The UN will be suitably scorned for accepting the concept of Palestinian statehood on a schedule not vetted by the Likud. It will be proposed that massive defunding of international UN agencies like ICAO, IAEA, WHO , etc. occur. Proposals will be made for expulsion of UN facilities and diplomats from the US.

Ron Paul will not accept much of that, but, no matter.

You think that there should be other policies debated? Well, think what you like.

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October 18, 2011 10:39 PM

Let’s see. What would that eminent philosopher and policy wonk, W. C. Fields say in answer to this question?

“Well, little chickadees,” he might begin.

“Let us first stipulate that Iran is the worst threat to the US since Hitler or Saddam Hussein, or the USSR, whichever one prefers. No matter that our spooks refuse to accept the idea, what do they know?

Our greatest non-NATO ally, perhaps the greatest ally we have ever had, assures us that Iran is Nazi Germany and Ahmadinajad is the apotheosis of evil, or at least a major tribal enemy.

This blessed people, to be protected and cherished above all others, demands our help in destroying their enemies. What duty could be more sacred and just?

A good start has been made in the discovery of an Iranian plot, deviously, fiendishly clever in its disguise as an enterprise that on the surface seems designed by the Three Stooges. Curse them! There are those who doubt t

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October 11, 2011 03:45 PM

In New York a couple of years ago I debated the "big war" men over the question "Can the US ever win in Afghanistan?" I insisted at that time that an attempt to re-design Afghanistan would ultimately fail because attempts to re-create whole countries in our image are inherently doomed to failure. Why is that? Simple. Such attempts cost too much, last too long and inherently become increasingly brutal as frustration sets in on both sides. People rebel against that brutality with the passage of time.

COIN as a doctrine was formalized in the colonial powers following World War 2 as a response to national wars of liberation in their overseas posessions. This doctrine was imported to the United States in the Kennedy era as a panacea for Soviet and Chinese sponsorship of such revolts. I was a practioner of that doctrine in the '60s and '70s. It rarely worked for us in any situation in which large scale "investment" of resources was required. The US Government and its citizens consistently balked at the effort if the costs got high enough. T

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October 7, 2011 10:11 AM

I find this article to be deeply disturbing. I wrote below that war is a killing business, killing and destroying, but in war one legitimately kills enemy soldiers on the basis of their group identity as members of an armed force. Even in counter-terrorist operations, the decision to kill is contingent on the functionality of the individual within the group but it is the group that is the target on thre basis of their shared identity and shared hostility. The violence against such groups is authorised by Congress, even in the absence of a declaration of war. This article in The Atlantic Describes a system in which a faceless panel of NSC staffers weighs the pros and cons concerning an American enemy combatant and decides, subject to presidential review, that the armed forces or CIA should kill this person.

That does not sound or sm

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October 5, 2011 06:51 PM

An opinion on this depends on whether or not you think we are at war and whether or not you think Awlaki was an enemy combatant. I think that we are at war and that Awlaki was an enemy combatant. Based on these views I judge his death from above to be an act of war against someone who had made himself an enemy of the United States and was a present danger.

On the other hand we must consider the evident expansion of power in the United States of the various internal security groups: the FBI, ATF, the Department of Justice, the FISA courts and the federal judiciary in general.

I am accustomed to wars fought against America's enemies abroad, not "wars" of suppression internally focussed against dissenters. There is a great danger of that. pl

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September 26, 2011 05:34 PM

"Some say the world will end in fire; some say in ice." Frost

No. I say it will end in farce. Israel is a small foreign country far away. It has just a handful of people. It is organized politically as the property of a particular religious group. It has very little in the way of natural resources. It is surrounded by hostile countries. Even those countries that have treaties with Israel do not like the Zionist state. Actually, in those countries, "Zionist!" is a deep insult if used in addressing someone.

Nevertheless, that little country, by the process of relentless "perception management,"and manipulation of our electoral process, has convinced most Americans that it is almost, almost like a part of the US. Oh, yes, there is no treaty of alliance between the two countries.

Most Americans seem to believe that Paul Newman and Kirk Douglas founded "Izrul" as a kind of extension of the US and its values. Palestine, where is that?" would be the thought of many Americans. Oh, you mean those scruffy, t

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September 6, 2011 12:22 PM

Back to basics... First, one defines National Purpose, then one devises policy based on that, then strategy is devekoped, then programs for national defense, then budgets are proposed to the Congress by the Elected Presidential Administration.

In recent decades this process has been perverted by the egregiously large degree of geo-strategic decision making infuence ceded to the military leadership. Once upon a time, generals and admirals offered their MILITARY advice and then were silent and waiting for guidance. Now, they and the defense business people throw their weight around in Washington in a fashion equalled only by AIPAC, the NRA and old people. (like me)

The question, as posed above implies a process of fiscal re-arrangement of the "deck chairs" that ignores the real question of "what we would do with our armed forces in the future," and "to what end?"

We are no longer rich. We may never be rich again. We threw the money away and encouraged the flight of productive enterprise in our enthusiam for "free

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September 1, 2011 06:57 PM

I supported US/NATO intervention in Libya, not to "protect civilians, but to get rid of Qathafi. He was and is a lunatic scamp. His women guards, costumes and bravado are amusing but not enough to think that he should be left in peace to strut and oppress the Libyans. A further irritant was the farcical "triumph" of non-proliferation still gloated over by Cheney in which the Libyans "gave up" their nuclear weapons program to justify Bush Administration actions elsewhere. All those who know better, know that Libya had several warehouses full of crates of bits and pieces that they had no idea what to do with. Think of the last scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark." It was a good trade by the Libyans. They gave up a lot of "sunk cost" junk and then George W. Bush embraced them. I am not in favor of letting an oriental despot appear to have duped us that thoroughly. In the event my expectation was that a generous application of air power and local guerrilla forces would suffice, and they did.

Now, the Libyan rebels have largely wo

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August 9, 2011 05:51 PM

I cannot thank Professor Adams enough for explaining that there really is no problem in resources for the armed forces and the country and that business will be conducted as usual in the think tanks, lobbying groups and defense bureaucracy.

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August 9, 2011 12:33 PM

I like the thing about the "6 MRAPS" on every VFW lawn." In front of the AMTRAK station in Alexandria, Virginia stands the WWI Memorial, a tall granite cross, an obvious violation of the principle of separation of church and state. Until a few years ago there stood beside it a cute little Renault tank from that war. Children crawled over it. Tourists (for some odd reason) posed beside it, etc. Then one tragic day it was gone. There was an outcry! In response the city mothers (mayoress and city manageress) announced that the constant spectacle of the glorification of this instrument of death was "bad for the children" and for that reason and the genaral ugliness of the object it had been returned to "the authorities" who had sent it to a VFW Post in West (by god) Virginia.

Does this anecdote betray a lack of seriousnes with regard to the question of the week? Yes, it does.

There is no money!! We cannot afford to pretend any longer to be the heartland of an unacknowledged ecumenical empire devoted to the welfare of "th

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August 4, 2011 08:14 PM

I suppose you or your "guides" understand by now that Americans think this is an inappropriate question.

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July 19, 2011 09:33 AM

History sometimes has embedded messages that should be heeded. In 1944 an Iraqi political cabal among nationalist army officers attacked British interests, facilities and persons all over Iraq. The RAF air base at Habbaniyah west of Baghdad was literally besieged for a long time. It was defended by the locally recruited "Assyrian" Christian guards.

It is a long way from central Iraq to the sea. Both the Mediterranean and Gulf are several hundred miles away from the places where most residual American forces would be left. Muqtada al-Sadr has declared that if the US leaves forces in the country after the first of the year, he will tell his men to resume attacking us. And then, there are the Iranians themselves and their special operations forces so deeply burrowed into Iraqi Shia society.

For a residual American garrison to be reasonably secure it would have to be so large as to make a mockery of the idea that we have withdrawn from this sovereign state.

I do not write here of the diplomatic and development aid civilians. They will be scattere

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July 18, 2011 03:32 PM

My response to this question was posted on my blog "Sic Semper Tyrannis" this AM.

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June 28, 2011 08:10 PM

"insurgencies that threaten U.S. interests are going to keep occurring around the world for decades to come." Why? Insurgencies are other people's revolutions. Why should we insist that they will threaten US interests? Did the "insurgencies" that swept Latin America in the '60s really threaten US interests or did we insist on making the insurgents our enemies. I helped suppress a number of these revolutions as part of the "Alliance for Progress" effort. Was this really wise, or should we have embraced these revolutions against the latifundista class? Were we wise to support French re-occupation of Indochina after WW2? Are we really so much the status quo country that we instinctively want to support stasis? Mr. Jefferson said that revolution was a good thing. COIN is dimly understood today. It is, in fact, a counter-revolutionary doctrine, a doctrine for Tories.

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June 27, 2011 06:02 PM

In doing what? In pacifying Afghanistan so that a sovereign more or less consoliated central government rules over this buffer state created by the Russian empire and the Raj to separate their forces? How many 'nations" are there within the borders of the country of Afghanistan? I speak here of ethno-linguistic nations. Pushtuns, Tajiks, Turkmen, Hazara, Uzbeks, Baluch, Persians, Arabs, Kirghiz, these are not "tribes," or "factions." These are different peoples with often mutually unintelligible languages who have warred or co-existed in what we call Afghanistan for millennia. COIN was supposed to bring them all together in brotherly solidarity through good works and the wonderful "graft" derived from foreign aid? There is no "Afghan People," only Afghan Peoples.

This was always a fool's errand, sold by the "people of the book," in this case the COIN manual. Dr. Brenner calls the priestly class of the NEOCOIN religion," the deluders," as opposed to "the deluded." The latter are to be found

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June 22, 2011 06:43 PM

We have discussed this at "Sic Semper Tyrannis."

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June 14, 2011 06:19 PM

"That truth should NOT obscure the likelihood that the navy and air force are probably going to be the mainstays of American defense for decades." Sorry

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June 14, 2011 05:33 PM

NATO was "purpose built" to serve as a barrier to Soviet expansionism in Europe. The USSR is long dead and gone. Russia is only a rumor of a threat. Is France still fearful of Germany? I think not. Is Portugal fearful of Morocco? Doubtful. Why does NATO exist?

It exists to serve as as "janissary" force for the conduct of US foreign policy.

Europe has no credible military enemies as threats. Europe is threatened by financial insolvency and the possibility of cultural inundation from Africa and former Muslim colonies of the "metropoles." Those threats have little to do with the ability to send and sustain conventional military forces to distant lands inhabited by strange and hostile peoples who prefer their own benighted folkways.

Terrorism? You want to call this threat a war situation? Fine, but it is a war best fought with police, intelligence agencies and counter-terrorist commandos, not with conventional armies that dimly comprehend COIN but talk about it endlessly. NATO knows that the armies that the US want them

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April 26, 2011 10:35 PM

We are locked in a world wide existential struggle against Islamic fringe ijma' groups? Well,yes, if we say so... Iran is an existential threat to the US? No. Iran might some day be an existential threat to Israel. Today, only Zionist paranoia makes anything like that seem even remotely true. The Iranians have no nuclear weapons. They have no delivery mean for their non-existent nuclear weapons. When they have them, if they are stupid enough to have them, then we can destfroy them and their wretched government, but, not now. A short time ago I invited a supposed Israeli friend and colleague to my Washington club. In the midst of lunchj this person announced to the table that I did not see Israeli and American interests as identical.. He then waited for condemnation to fall on my head. It did not.

We have been lured into a situation in Afghanistan which pits us Americans against islamic zealots. How did that happen? How did we become engaged against Islamicism? What is their medieval nonsense to us? Our economy is falling apart on the altar

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April 18, 2011 06:43 AM

I first worked on this set of questions when a student at the Army War College in the ‘80s. This was in the era when the War College was still a serious professional institution rather than a substitute for civilian graduate schools. My work group was tasked to draw up a plan for the redesign of the Unified Command Plan and the Roles and Missions of the armed forces. These two things are obviously related. This planning task was done in the context of the same planning, programming and budgeting system in use today. That system had come into use in the Kennedy moment under the influence of McNamara and the army of ORSA people that he largely created.

My “band of brothers” bravely redesigned and then was asked to brief the Chairman and SECDEF of the day. I was the briefer. It was most entertaining and enlightening. Thanks were given, congratulations extended and, of course, nothing happened to implement anything of the “plan.”

Why? Well, the complex nature of American government intervened to obviate anything like that. With

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March 18, 2011 07:11 PM

Sitting around the table in college library seminar rooms, it is always easy to hold forth on weighty isues with a freedom that is not reflective of the real world. Purity of ideals are easily insisted on when lunch is only an hour or so away. Reality is different. Some wise person said that an intellectual is someone who can hold two opposing positions in his mind simultaneousy. We need to be able to do that now.

Libya is a country ruled by a fool with an entertaining penchant for "dressing up." Some of his "Kodak Moment" versions of "traditional" Libyan dress are captivating. Nevertheless, he is a mad, bad man, one of many bad actors with too much power in the world. Fortunately for the Libyan people, his armed forces are a joke in everything except posession of a large collection of obsolete equipment that has been ill maintained for many years and which his poorly trained and badly divided forces have little real ability to use. On the other hand the rebels are a poorly armed mob.who, nevertheless, seem willing to fight for their

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March 7, 2011 02:40 PM

We have been having an extended discussion of the modalities of "how to do it" at SST. At my request one of our regular authors who carries the pen name "The Twisted Genius" wrote the piece at the link. He is a retired "Greenie," case officer and SMU operator. Nobody thinks this would be easy. As they say in the Green Beret community, "If this was easy, they would not need us to do it." Air support from the fleet would be a big help. Would it make a big difference politically in the end? Who knows? Another saying from that community, "First you sell yourself to the guerrilla leader, and then you are all sold together."

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March 6, 2011 10:46 PM

"Countries have no friends!" Well, perhaps not, but in the present instance the United States has once again yielded to its jacobin inclinations and encouraged a variety of foreign people to revolt against men with guns and armed aircraft throughout the Arab World. I have seen this before; Hungary - 1956, Prague - 1968, Aden - 1981, the Shia in Iraq after the first Gulf War. The list is long evenion my short memory.

"The Freedom Agenda!" Does no one remember this fixed policy star of the neocons and the Bushies? Does no one remember how the United States pushed this call to revolt? And then there is President Obama, the community organiser from Chicago, and his university speech in Cairo. Does no one remember? Someone said to me recently, "but surely 'they" knew that was political nonsense?'"

No, they did not.

In 1941, with Rommel at the door to Cairo, Churchill, that darling of the neocons, decided (against the advice of his generals) to send troops who could not be spared from the defense of Egypt to fight in Gre

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December 16, 2010 02:58 PM

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December 14, 2010 07:29 PM

In addition to what has been said here by my freinds, I would mention my perception that the US view, and to some extent the coalition view, of the struggle for Afghanistan is quite different from that of the local actors, both within and without the country. This was also true in Iraq.

For the Americaan forces and government the war is about the eradication of anti-American and anti-coalition entities and tendencies that could once again provide a base for terrorist attacks abroad. In pursuit of that set of goals, programs are in place to destroy Islamic extremist groups and to make Afghanistan into a model of transformation from oriental traditionalism in all its social and political forms to a hybrid modernism that functions according to the ideals of western liberalism. A part of that vision requires the abandonment of the oriental cultural expectation that the possession of political power naturally leads to acquisition of personal and family wealth. This western aspiration in government is sacred to western self image no matter how much the aspiration may be impe

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December 6, 2010 01:05 PM

The service chiefs made it very clear that they and the armed forces will obey the law whatever it is. That is not the issue. The question really is whether or not the implications and unintended consequences of such a change are fully understood in an atmosphere of fevered political correctness and incomplete data.

In my opinion the DoD study is a bit of a joke. It is badly defective in execution. 72% of those who were sent the questions neither completed nor returned it. Their absent responses are not in the data base created by the study. This creates a sample that self selected for engagement in the outcome. What does that mean? What about the 72%? Were they indifferent as to this change in the law? I doubt that. It seems more likely to me that they have simply "shut down" over this issue in the belief that the change will take place inevitably and their opinions were sought as mere "window dressing." That is exactly the way that the results of the study are being used selectively to justify the change. For example; one of the statis

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December 6, 2010 08:50 AM

“Should the views of combat personnel fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan be given more weight than the views of the rest of the military, even if combat troops compose only a fraction of the total force?” - Dreazen

You don’t get it. It is in the infantry, armor, and Special Forces where this is a big issue, not in the rest of the armed forces. It is among those who personally and regularly engage the enemy with their bodies and small arms up close that the issue arises as to who is or can be a “brother.” General Amos expressed this very clearly in his quotation from a letter from an infantry lieutenant. Read it.

For civilians, this is a social justice issue. For the grunts, this is a survival issue.

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November 27, 2010 10:22 AM

Wars sometimes begin for ideological or "strategic" reasons but in the end they are largely about money. The present situation is illustrative. The neocons and their presidential puppet desperately wanted to invade Iraq. They started serious plotting for the invasion as soon as they achieved power in 2000. (See my article "Drinking the Koolaid" in MEP) Afghanistan began as an exercise in punitve vengeance. It was successful. Now both wars are continued as supposed paradigms of yet another "Guerre Moderne," and useful practise at "swamp draining." This is designed to make the swamps inhospitable for dangerous critters. That, in itself, is laughable, a kind of cosmic replay of the old film "The Man Who Would be King" but this time with real armies. The truth is easily glimpsed beneath the veil of misdirection. Many people both in "the region" and at home are becoming immensely rich from the "leakage" of government contracts both for equipment and for performance in the field of logistics. Why would an

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November 8, 2010 01:00 PM

There was a time when east Asia was a major (perhaps THE major) focus of American interest in the world. Our gunboats ranged far up the Chinese rivers guarding American missionaries and commercial interests. The Yangtze River Patrol came into being just after the US Civil War and lasted until Pearl Harbor. There were usually half a dozen ships. Their flagship was at Shanghai. There was a US Navy hospital there as well. The British, French and Japanese also had ships in the rivers. Our Pacific posessions tended to guide our eyes to the western horizon.

Then came World War Two, the huge struggle against Germany on the European continent and the quick commencement of the Cold War thereafter. The thermonuclear confrontation and the need to unite western Europe against the Soviet threat of necessity held our attention. Korea and Vietnam never really dragged our attention to the Pacific. It is a curiosity of that period that in spite of a decade of massive war in Vietnam the US Army never made the war the over-riding concern that it might have been.

Now, India a

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November 3, 2010 10:33 AM

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October 26, 2010 06:40 PM

One wonders if Afghanistan is on America's "bucket list."

We are spending a hundred billion dollars a year there in a country with a GDP of 14 billion dollars a year. We have committed our forces there on the basis of a threat to homeland security.

In fact the war in Afghanistan is a proxy war between Pakistan and India in which the American agenda is seriously deluded in believing that this struggle is about Al-Qa'ida. The Pakistan government and army see Afghanistan as a security threat to the long term existence of Pakistan if an outside power of some puissance holds sway in that "country." To obviate that "threat" Pakistan has offered to deal with hostiles (against the US) in Afghanistan if we will withdraw from the scene. The reply was "No!"

We are still pursuing the simple minded Fred Kagan (and his pal David's) goal of making the The Islamic world safe for Israel. The Washington/New York world continues to be altogether dominated by that goal. Discipline is increasingly exerted among the overly co

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October 12, 2010 02:06 PM

I have heard his name and that of McDonough whispered in circles critical of President Obama. The whispering has been more or less continuous. "Political." "Militarily ignorant." "Brash." etc. I have no idea what this man is about, except that he supposedly talked too much for General Jones' taste. I suspect that would not be difficult to do. Also, he apparently favored a smaller, more focused approach in Afghanistan, one devoid of messianism and nation state creation. If that is so, than his promotion can be seen as a search by Obama for a more balanced group of subordinates.

Yes. It is true. Petraeus is Obama's subordinate and serves at the president's pleasure. Woodward writes that Powell told Obama that "there are other generals." Woodward is always right, so, one can only say that this was a profound piece of advice and one that Petraeus might be glad of at some point.

This is a bit like Kremlinology in the bad old days, and a similar speculation is reflected in the comments here thus far.

Bottom Line:

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October 9, 2010 02:11 PM

Before we decide to slay the dragon, we should understand what the dragon is. Is the dragon merely the Iranian state nuclear program or is the dragon really a herd of dragons, unknown in number, and located across all the parts of the world in which Muslims live? The neocons push the idea that the Gulf Arabs will welcome an attack on Iran's nuclear potential. I don't believe that is true of the elites or the masses. Arabs are very good at phrasing their conversations with the powerful and the foreign in such a way that the farenji can hear whatever he wants in the dialog. That is so much easier, restful and courteous than simpy telling the visitor that he has a "screw loose." Then, there is the overhanging issue of Pakistan's existing force de frappe. We have been told repeatedly that Pakistan's armed forces and intelligence service will not accept our policy of killing Pakistanis on Pakistan's soil. We would not listen. We were sure that at last the 3rd world country of Pakistan would bow to our wishes. Now we have been warned with these bor

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October 5, 2010 11:52 AM

The Iranian leadership persists in proclaiming its animosity towards the United States. The Iranian government is probably pursuing the eventual acquisition of nuclear weapons and the means of delivery. That goal is years away but it seem clear that they are headed in that direction. Is that a threat to the United States? Any country that insists that we are their enemy and that will eventually possess "the bomb" has to be a subject of concern.

If that is the case, then the question arises of Iranian intentions. It is an axiom in intelligence work that judgments should be based on the capabilities of possible adversaries and not their intentions. This axiom works very well in combat intelligence where a guessing game as to intentions can be fatal in tha absence of "hard" evidence like a plausible piece of signals intelligence. The axiom becomes less and less useful as one ascends in the spectrum of intelligence analysis toward the strategic level. At that level, the lethality of weapons expands exponentially towards the possibility of total defe

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October 1, 2010 11:54 AM

If you have not seen the "indie" film "Amreeka," you should. It depicts a divorced Palestinian (Christian) mother's voyage toward America with her teenager son. From Bethlehem to Ohio - what a trip this is in so many ways; culturally, economically and spiritually. The film is both heartbreaking and hopeful.

I think that nearly all of our alien, immigrant groups of ancestors have experienced something like the ordeal that the Muslims and Arabs are now in the midst of. How does the process go? First there is euphoria, then there is dillusionment, privation, adaptation and finally an assimilation that changes and both the immigrant group and the society that absorbs them. In the course of that process, some people do not "make it" across the divide between the old world and the new. Such people rise up in rebellion against real or imagined injustice. Some stay here and struggle. The "Molly McGuires" come to mind. Some go "home," physically, emotionally or both. It is these that we have reason to fear.


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September 24, 2010 11:29 AM

It is often lamented that "Civics" as a subject is not much taught in High School anymore. I agree with the sentiment but the Tea Party crowd seem to be unrepresentative of such a dearth of teaching in American government. In fact, they seem to have memorized a freshman Civics textbook, or, at least the one I remember being taught from. Their heads are filled with the mythology of the founding of the United States and the temporarily successful struggle to create a system in which the federal government was severely limited in its powers and blocked from growth by the states and an inability to inflict direct taxation on the citizenry. I am naturally sympathetic to their point of view. As a libertarian conservative, how coulld I not support that point of view?

Nevertheless, their ideas of "what should be done" are frightening. Even those among them who have some experience of the world outside their daily surroundings express the desire to wreck large parts of the federal government and the social "safety net" that has been created after

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September 11, 2010 12:47 PM

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September 7, 2010 12:32 PM

Round # 1

- Freedom from further AQ inpired attacks in the US. Are these wars of nation building insuring that? Why not just kill our enemies where we find them? Dead men don't bite and there are only so many people who want to be "martyred" TODAY.

- A secular missionary's satisfaction in bettering the lot of the Iraqis, various kinds of Afghans, Pakistanis, Somalis (Oh, we did that already), etc., etc.? This is a job for a 21st Century version of "Chinese Gordon." Ah, "Iraqi Petraeus." Oh, I forgot. Hardly any of us know any history. "That's history," a typically dismissive American remark. Try to get your minds around the numbers involved.

- If we do not "sober up," then I think that unending war is the answer to the question, unending war until the collapse.

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August 20, 2010 05:12 PM


- Just about any movie directed by Ridley Scott except that awful thing with the two women driving around in a Cadillac convertible, ah, "Thelma and Louise." My favorite would be his first, "The Duelists," (a light cavalry skirmish).

- Coen brothers movies. "Miller's Crossing" is at the top of my list..

- "Pork Chop Hill" with Gregory Peck. Strangely compelling.

- "Farewell to the King," Nick Nolte. The ultimate Special Forces flick.

- "Lost in Translation" Wonderfully romantic. Murray wuz robbed.


- "Lancelot" by Walker Percy. It don't get more Suthin" than this.

- The 1922 text edition of "Seven Pillars of Wisdom" TE Lawrence. a third longer than the trade edition, less lyrical but more informative.

- Anything by Isaac Asimov. I first read "I Robot" when I was nine and was hooked. I always recommend the Foundation trilogy and "The Caves of Steel." His commentary on Gilbert and Sullivan is

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August 18, 2010 12:35 PM

The publishing industry is moribund. It publishe;s cook books, coffee table books, wonky policy books, self adulatory supposed autobiographies, "f--k you money" books, and the wondrous "'------' for idiots" books."

Read old books.

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August 12, 2010 03:03 PM

"Nobody is suggesting cuts of that size yet." I knew I was nobody. I guess this confirms that.

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August 11, 2010 12:53 PM

Last evening on the Newshour our colleague, Winslow Wheeler, was clear in saying that Gates' proposed reductions are fine as far as they go but are really rather unimportant in terms of scale when the enormous size of the defense establishment and budget is considered as a whole.

JFCOM was always a waste of time and money. Consultants and contractors love the place. Why would they not? A giant, pluckable turkey for everyone including retired flag officers, but, there are many equally useless and outmoded functions and organizations that should also be eliminated.

The suggestion was made last evening that this "move" is a gambit on Gates part to try to offer up enough "savings" so that he can save all the force structure he has now plus the procurement programs that he favors. That seems quite likely to be true.

As I argued a couple of weeks back, we don't need all that force structure if we have a different foreign policy, one that does not envision massive expeditionary operations for extended periods of time.

The real

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August 4, 2010 12:16 PM


As I said, force structure and size should be based on national policy. I didn't say that? Well, I am doing so now. Our present "I love freedom"/"Drain the Swamp" foreign policy drives the size and character of our forces. A different policy would require different forces.

Policy: Let's mind our own business and give up the "city on a hill" fantasy. Withdraw our forces from all overseas commitments that do not serve AMERICAN interests. Keep a few locations that do so.

Such a re-emphasis on the reality of our interests, and the real threats to the USA and our bad economy would allow the kinds of cuts and changes that I earlier suggested.

In the context of such a change in policy a shrinkage of the multiplicity of headquarters now in the Unified Command Plan would be appropriate. Headquarters like JFCOM, Africom, SOCOM (as an operational headquarters), Northcom, all the European headquarters. These are just jobs programs for flag officers that attract contractor and consultant (like me) intere

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August 2, 2010 11:53 AM

The QDR is a farce for all the reasons that colleagues have here stated. The QDR is a negotiated document as are nearly all DoD instruments of exalted brooding. What can one expect of a document negotiated among the competing interests of the armed services and under the influence of contractors large and small? Such documents necessarily call for spending that protects those interests.

In the days when the war colleges were something other than second rate graduate schools, they used to teach a hierarchy of importance in national planning. Perhaps they still do. In that hierarchy, force structure and size were determined by national interest and strategy in the light of the best estimates available of real threats rather than threat estimates dished up by "tame" analysts belonging to the various interested parties. Such analysts produce work in the knowledge of "where their bread is buttered."

The study under discussion here seems little different in its essence than the QDR drill. High level chairmen, hordes of well paid consultants

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July 20, 2010 12:18 PM

Even if we could turn large numbers of rural Pushtuns against the Taliban, the engagement would become more or less permanent. Do we really want that?

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July 12, 2010 03:26 PM

Espionage is the humanities part of the intelligence collection business. Most of the information that goes into the collective mental processes of the community of anaylysts comes from "technical means." Signals intercepts, satellite and aircarft imagery collection, and a wide variety of other techniques too wonky and too secret to talk about. All of that is essentially the province of people who think, talk and act like engineers.

Espionage, defined as the recruiting of foreigners for the purpose of having them spy on their own governments or armed forces, is different. Espionage is about seduction, seduction through the use of charm, money, promises that may or may not be kept, hopes truly or falsely encouraged and sometimes the possibility of a great goal achieved. People who wanted to contribute "to the liberation of my country" come to mind in memory.

Most of the information needed in strategic intelligence should come from from "technical means," but the elusive 5% of the truth that lies beyond the grasp of "technica

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July 9, 2010 11:31 AM

In my first post on this question I asked that some learned person among the contributors should tell us what material advantage the United States derives from the US/Israeli alliance. So far, there have been no replies to that request. Why is that? Is it an unworthy question?

I have no objection to the alliance, but I think it should be seen clearly for what it is.

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July 6, 2010 10:31 PM

It does appear that the administration has been "brought to heel."

The Congress is "corrupt" because it has been brought under the control of a lobby that represents a foreign country and that country's American supporters. To compare the effectiveness and vicious tactics of that lobby to that of the Armenians is simply ludicrous. As I wrote before, "money and the fear of opposition" in elections long ago brought the Congress "to heel." I would agree with Paul Starobin that the Congress responds in some cases to the wishes of ardent Christians who wish to see an unqualified support of Israel. That congressional response is self serving and not altruistic but the impulse of the constituents is surely altruistic unless one believes that they derive a psychic income from that support that makes this support a positive transaction. Surely that is not the argument.

I would think that the basic ingredients of the situation are that Natanyahu needs to pretend to have a good relationship with Obama while continuing to push the US

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July 6, 2010 02:50 PM

To argue that the United States supports Israel because the Congress is corrupted is a curious position.

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July 6, 2010 10:21 AM

Your question is based on a false assumption, an assumption carefully inculcated in the United States since the Second World War. That false assumption is that the United States derives some significant material benefit from its alliance with and friendship for Israel. I know a good deal about US/Israeli relations having been in charge of military intelligence liaison with them for seven long years. We have many bright and knowledgeable people among the contributors to this blog. I appeal to them to correct my ignorance and inform us of the specific advantage that the United States receives as a benefit of its alliance with Israel.

We have the advantage of their genius in advanced technologies? Their COIN experts instruct our people? They are holding the Arabs at bay? Tell me what the benefit is.

In fact, the United States supports Israel because we want to support Israel. Successful information operations here have combined with a deeply felt grief for what the Nazis did to the Jews to produce a sympathy that is quite genuine. Yes, the US alliance with Isra

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June 28, 2010 12:29 PM

McChrystal and his playmates should have been more careful. They were not, and he has paid the price for that. Some of the playmates will probably pay a similar price. "Fooling around" with the press, especially the essentially hostile left wing press, has always been a dangerous game, only to be indulged in by the deft. Ground rules have to be carefully worked out, and performance within those ground rules must be checked for performance more or less continously. Even then, the process is a gamble.

This is always a love/hate relationship. On the one hand the general typically seeks to use the press for his own purposes whether that is personal self-promotion or an imagined opportunity to influence a target audience. On the other hand, the reporter is clearly a danger,

"Cump" Sherman threatened to hang those reporters who "interfered" with him and his intentions. Stonewall Jackson played the Richmond papers skilfully in struggles with his opponents within the Confederate government. Judah Benjamin, the Secretary of War, learned

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June 24, 2010 06:15 PM

David Petraeus has been given a hopeless task, not enough men, not enough time, no clear mission other than the ridiculous one of building an integrated Afghan state. At the same time, our Pakistani "ally" apparently continues to support segments of the Taliban array for reasons obscurely the result of their rivalry with India.

Since Petraeus has this hopeless task, it is only fair to give him as much "running room" as possible. I, too, would have preferred a marine, but, for various reasons, we have Petraeus. All right, let's give him Mattis, in my opinion, the best marine around now, as his deputy and lets give him McMaster as his chief of operations. Give McMaster a couple more stars. Why not?

At the same time, lets consolidate American authority in the PakAF theater by replacing the present ambassadors in thise iwo countries with people who understand that they are there to support Petraeus' effort. The same should be true of any special envoys like Holbrooke.

We need a a unified, simple, chain of command. Let's do it!

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June 23, 2010 08:42 PM

The Afghanistan strategy adopted by President Obam last year is the worst possible blend of two proposals that were before him.

On the one hand he committed to an effort to pacify the country through the application of nation building (COIN). On the other he limited the forces available to McChrystal and placed an unrealistic time limit on efforts to build that nation where none has existed before. In fact, such an effort, if sincerely undertaken, would rquire vastly greater resources and decades to have a chance. His decision last year was a bad decision. McChrystal understandably seems to have resented this and this resentment was reflected in the stupid conduct and remarks of his staff (in his presence) before the 'Rolling Stone" reporter.

Unfortunately, none of these difficulties have been resolved by relieving McChrystal and replacing him with Petraeus. Why? The same foolish strategy with all its limitations remains in place.

No amount of refexive cheerleading will change that.

Think. This thing is not going well. The various ki

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June 14, 2010 10:25 AM

Updated at 1:02 p.m. on June 15.

The United States does not want "allies." What it wants are subordinates. The Cold War taught us a lot of bad lessons. Among other things, it taught us to think of ourselves as the leaders and commanders of an armed camp, of an army made up of countries that had common purpose and which sought our protection and therefore accepted the need to do what we thought best. To that end we created command structures that brought the armed forces of these other states under our operational control. There was good reason for this. The Soviet Union was an immense menace.

That world is long gone, and with it the justification for the retention of the forms created to cope with the vanished threat. Does anyone really think that Islamic terrorism is an existential threat to the US or its NATO partners? I have seen Power Point slide shows that try to convince people that a few thousand fanatics are somehow the advanced guard of a mighty army marching toward us from the Muslim East. How absurd! To think or say that

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June 11, 2010 07:13 PM

I have been thinking about what Abrams said about this last Sunday on Fariid Zakarariyah's show. The usual apologia for Israel's blockade of Gaza centers around the need for Israel to prevent the importation of weapons making materials into Gaza. Abrams walked away from that after a nod in that direction.

Like the "stand up guy" that he is, Elliott freely admitted that the carefully orchestrated blockade is intended to wear down the support of the Gazans for Hamas. To make the point more clearly he said that this psychological campaign is effective and the polling (of all things) shows that support for Hamas in Gaza is declining as opposed to support for Mahmoud Abbas and the once hated (but now supported) PA/PLO. So, what this is really about is the desperate Israeli/AIPAC attempt to resolve the Palestinian political conflict in favor of the faction with which it is expected the best deal for Israel can be obtained.

Well, I listened to the incredulous Charlie Rose in his interview with Khalid Mishall in Damascus. Did anyone else? Listen to it wi

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June 3, 2010 01:09 AM

Will the economy (jobs) recover enough for us to afford our overseas adventures, industrial disasters, and commitments to free trade? We can only hope. Having been an adolescent in the '50s, a time of endless possibilities, I find it hard to think that America will not recover to its previous prosperity. Nevertheless, this kind of recovery seems unlikely in the long run. We bestrode the world. No more. Now we think, along with our miniscule ally, Israel, that we can ignore world opinion and changing circumstance. We think this whatever the cost. Well, good luck to us.

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May 26, 2010 05:39 PM

Dr. Adams and I disagree on this. I would prefer the DNI job to be given real presidential support. The job already has enough budget allotment authority to control policy in the community (a community of cannibals). The problem has been that CIA has successfully woven their silken strands about two heads of state and thus avoided DNI control. The FBI did much the same thing in the creation of the Department of Homeland Security. In my opinion the Republic is not served by such petty turf warfare.

God did not put the CIA in charge of the intelligence community. The pin striped Ivy League alumni of the OSS lobbied the Congress mighty hard in 1947 to have the new agency given that much power. They did this over the opposition of Truman and Marshall. They succeeded and their more average American organizational descendants gloried in the result.

I would like to see former Senator Hagel made DNI, but then, he was merely a sergeant in the infantry once upon a time.

I don't really care how much power the DNI has. The tragedy would be deep if CIA is rew

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May 24, 2010 10:56 AM

In my opinion it is better that the director of the CIA is not also head of the intelligence community as he used to be. In those days the National Defense Acts of 1947 and 1958 created a situation in which the CIA could use that situation to serve its own interests at the expense of all the other parts of the intelligence community. They did this by control of the instruments of "community" coordination. The DCI/CIA controlled the National Intelligence Council (NIC) and thereby CIA was able to nominate from among its own nearly all the National Intelligence Officers (NIOs) and drafters of National Intelligence Estimates (NIEs). NIOS are the most senior subject matter experts of the intelligence community and NIEs are the agreed upon truth of the US Government on any given subject. In the human intelligence collection (HUMINT) field it was a commonplace for the DCI/CIA to use the power of community "coordination" on human source registration to seize control of human assets recruited by other agencies. The justification was usually a "prior inte

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May 3, 2010 11:36 AM

The facts matter. "If this is true..." That seems to be the theme of the day. Where are the pictures? These things are not easy to hide. They must be in Lebanon. Syria would not be so foolish as to allow Hizbullah to fire them at Israel from her own territory. Look for them! Find them! If they are in the open, it will be child's play to find them. If they have been hidden in a building or under camouflage it will be more difficult, but that is why we pay for the intelligence community. The one thing we must not do is accept Israel's word for anything. Our interests are as much at stake as theirs and we are not they.

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April 19, 2010 04:20 PM

It is better to think situations like this through carefully than to react in an overly hasty way and cause terrible damage in the world. History is filled with incidents involving maritime forces in which public excitement could or did lead to war whether or not the attack ever really occurred or was intentional.

We should all know by now that the Spanish did not sink the USS Maine. She was destroyed as the result of a coal bunker fire that was caused by bad watch keeping. Nevertheless, we did go to war with Spain. Lives were lost. History was changed on the basis of domestic propaganda. Hmmm...

On the other hand, the Japanese did attack and sink USS Panay at Nanking in December 1937. The Japanese claimed it was a case of "misidentification." An uncle of mine was in the ship's company. The Iraqis did attack and nearly sink USS Stark in the Gulf in 1987. They also claimed that this was "misidentification." In both of these cases war was a clear possibility but cool heads prevailed, reparations were paid and the peace held for a w

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April 5, 2010 12:27 PM

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March 19, 2010 06:39 PM

Just to be clear, I think these men are prisoners of war and should have been held as such. This would not have prevented trials for violations of the law of war for some individuals.. Whether or not that would have occasioned courts-martial or military commissions, I know not. It would be interesting to know what the charge would be in the case of an air attack on the civilian population of a city.

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March 18, 2010 07:53 PM

I guess i am one of Mike's "dregs."

I have been asked by a number of defense teams to act as an "expert" witness in the cases of some of the people now confined without trial or awaiting trial. Few of these confined/accused are people whose names are in the public prints. "Protective orders" from the courts prevent any discussion of these cases but I have something to say about the lawyers representing these people. Some of these lawyers are Federal Public Defenders. Some are attorneys in well known law firms doing this pro bono. Some are law professors and law students acting together, also pro bono. I find that their motivations in defending these men are all rather similar. The lawyers believe in due process for all. They want to see justice done. To suggest that they are anti-American because they defend the accused seems incredible to me. What could be more American than to want to see justice done?

The Bush Administration created a new class of prisoner by holding prisoners "as though they were p

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