Another Lesson On the U.S. Military

Deborah Venable



Okay, I’ll bite.  I’ll get in on the analysis of General McChrystal”s command performance at the Whitehouse to answer to “the one’s” ire about this recent publication of an article about said general in that bastion of literary and media giants, Rolling Stone Magazine.  After having said that, and having read the whole article, I will say that the facts in the article are the catalyst to disaster – not any special wordsmithing by the writer.  I do not believe that McChrystal can be effective in his job unless the desired outcome is not victory.  Those guys fighting this war in Afghanistan know that it isn’t being fought to win.  It is the epitome of a political war at this point. 


I believe that is precisely why Bush laid it on the back burner after the initial answering assault for 911.


Obama saw that as a weakness in the “war president’s” actions, but maybe it was Bush being much too shrewd.  He probably realized that Afghanistan could not be won while Iraq was ongoing, so he spared the rod and spoiled the child until such time that it could not be ignored any more.


Obama was foolish to believe that time had been reached, but in his naiveté he was outspoken in his call to forget Iraq and get on with Afghanistan.  They are two very different wars, with different populations, different demands, and different conceivable outcomes.  The projection now is that both could be irrecoverably lost, and America’s treasure sacrificed in vain.


Many have questioned Bush’s decision to go into Iraq at all, especially since Afghanistan was already underway.  The answer may be as simple as, it was necessary.  We had a high profile leader thumbing his nose at the United Nations in general and America specifically.  Whether his claims of having WMD (especially nuclear weapons) were legitimate or not, the world certainly thought he did – and that he was willing to use them.  That was a much more pressing problem than third world scrappers hiding the “black marble” in impenetrable caves.  All we needed there was a presence while we handled the would-be, self-proclaimed leader of the Muslim world and freed up a large portion of the black gold supply in that part of the world.


No wonder every terrorist group in the jihadist world decided to headquarter their outrage operations from the “occupied” soil of Iraq.  They had been there all along after all!  Bush only followed through the Desert Storm operation from the previous decade to prove how easy it is to pull a little dictator off his throne.  Mission accomplished!  And it was!  But the ignorant masses howled foul, and encouraged the enemy to keep on fighting.  Stupidity usually kills more soldiers than the enemy, and this was no exception.


Just so you know, the boys who actually do battle do NOT like long, drawn out wars.  They only happen because too many civilians get involved.  Don’t get me wrong here.  I certainly believe in our system of government where the commander-in-chief is the civilian in charge of the military.  I just don’t necessarily believe that politics should run wars.  If the commander-in-chief cannot divorce himself from politics in the handling of wars, then we have a real problem.  That is what gets soldiers killed and causes nations to bow down to dictators.   


So, like it or not, we’re back to that spoiled child, Afghanistan.  What to do with the scrappers that only know how to fight dirty, use women and children as shields, and fund all their efforts with jealously guarded poppy fields?  These people aren’t serious adversaries for the most powerful army on earth, but they surely are a thorn in the side of human rights the world over.  You can’t send a tip-toe through the daisies political army into that God forsaken place to rebuild anything that would embrace human freedom.  We write one set of rules for our guys and the enemy counters with unconscionable savagery.  Who do you think will win a war played out like that?


It is no accident that General McChrystal allowed access to himself and his team by a reporter from the likes of Rolling Stone.  I’ll never believe that – or any half-baked apology the general thinks he owes “his” choice for the presidency and those surrounding him.  At this point, I really don’t care what happens to the general’s career, but I do care what happens to the soldiers in his command.  That should be the only thing on the mind of the leader of the free world as he deals with his own wartime debacle. 


McChrystal has admitted to being a “troublemaker” throughout his career.  I believe him to be an honorable troublemaker in a lot of ways, and he hasn’t been afraid to take himself to the front lines to fight and possibly die with his boys.  You’ve got to admire that.  So why is he allowing himself to be manipulated by politics?  If he wanted to be a politician, he could have resigned his commission and pursued that career long ago – just as many others have.  Does he really think he can bridge the natural divide between the military and politics from the military side?  Not very likely.


Remember this:  members of the United States Military take an oath to defend the Constitution, which provides Americans protections of their freedoms, many of which are withheld from those very people putting their lives on the line.  They are admonished NOT to speak their minds, and they must answer to a kind of dictatorship for what they do, where they go, and even with whom they associate. 


Now we have the news that, indeed, McChrystal is out.  No surprise there.  He spoke his mind and others were listening – and he knew it!


I have a lot of faith in General David Petraeus, Obama’s choice to take over the spoiled child.  God bless him in his endeavor to find that rod again and finish this thing, but I am a realist. 


Tread carefully, General, and make that rod a BIG stick.  One wise decision by this politically driven commander-in-chief does not a good war footing make. 



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