Investigative Journalism that is as
Radical as Reality Itself.

McChrystal Returns to His Roots

by FRANKLIN C. SPINNEY

For the past several years Americans have been inundated by reams of journalistic puff pieces extolling the virtues of the new US Counterinsurgency (COIN) Strategy documented by General Petraeus in his much ballyhooed COIN manual — which for the most part was a merely regurgitation of the failed thinking of French Marshal Lyautey’s ink spot strategy (that counterinsurgent forces should aim to secure an ever expanding geographic zone of security with each new area secured providing a basis for further spreading, and so on.) 

It is becoming clear, however, the showpiece of this new strategy, the Marjah operation, has failed to deliver on the promised security improvements to the people, and in the words of the theater commander, General Stanley McChrystal, has become a "bleeding ulcer."  

Coupled with the deadlines imposed by President President Obama, when he approved McChrystal’s ill-thought out plan last Fall, notwithstanding the cogent misgivings expressed by Ambassador Eikenberry, it is now clear that McChrystal is under mounting pressure to deliver some progress by the end of the year.  

Indeed, hair may be on fire at McChrystal’s Bagram headquarters.  Rumors are circulating in military circles of backbiting and finger pointing, as well as complaints that MacChrystal is being set up as a fall guy, while his boss, General Petraeus, skates to a Republican presidential nomination in 2012.

The stressed out psychological atmosphere appears to have induced General McChrystal to return to his special operations roots for a quick fix, by focusing even more on targeted assassinations in order to reverse the course of events, a sense of desperation smacking of the infamous, Vietnam-era Phoenix Campaign.

Gareth Porter, certainly one of the most able observers of the Afghan Mess, just wrote an eye-opening account of McCrystal’s shift here on the CounterPunch site.  Gone is the cosmetic COIN strategy purporting to win hearts and minds.  The name of the game is morphing into a hackneyed strategy with an unblemished record of failure in America’s wars of empire: Make deals with the devil to get the intelligence information needed to decapitate the insurgency by assassinating the insurgent leaders.  

The strategy of decapitation reflects a tautological doctrinal mindset that goes back to the mechanical theory of strategic bombing that emerged from the Air Corps Tactical School in the 1930s: identify the enemy system’s critical nodes, use precision strikes to destroy these nodes, and because the nodes are vital to the enemy system’s survival, he will collapse, by definition.  It doesn’t matter whether these critical nodes are German ball bearing plants in WWII or guerrilla leaders in the Hindu Kush, the result is tautologically inevitable.  Moreover, the subtle art of war is reduced to a straight-forward engineering problem, where the object of war — the adversary — acts and reacts predictably. QED.  

The problem with this kind of tautological thinking is, as Porter shows so clearly, is that the devil has his own agenda.

Franklin “Chuck” Spinney is a former military analyst for the Pentagon. He currently lives on a sailboat in the Mediterranean and can be reached at chuck_spinney@mac.com

WORDS THAT STICK

 

July 07, 2015
ANDRE VLTCHEK
In Ecuador, Fight for Mankind; In Greece, Fight for Greece!
Nile Bowie
Obama’s Pacific Trade Deal Trails Behind China’s Development Vision
Binoy Kampmark
Warrior Economist: the Varoufakis Legacy
Shamus Cooke
Unions Must Act Now to Survive Supreme Court Deathblow
Dave Lindorff
The Greek People Have Voted ‘No!’ to Austerity and Economic Blackmail
Bruce K. Gagnon
Sanders Bullshit Meter Goes Off the Charts in Portland, Maine
Mateo Pimentel
The Pope’s Letter: Neoliberalism and Fukushima
Raouf Halaby
Beware Those Who Speak With Forked Tongues
Ron Jacobs
The Grateful Dead: The Ship of the Sun Bids Farewell
Jonathan Cook
Hasbara Industry: Why Israel’s Army of Spin-Doctors is Doomed to Defeat
Rev. William Alberts
Charleston: a Reality Check on Racism in America
Ellen Brown
A Franciscan Alternative: the People’s Pope and a People’s Bank?
Colin Todhunter
The Warped World of the GMO Lobbyist
John Wight
Who Will Join With Greece?
W. T. Whitney
Colombia’s Fensuagro Union is Revolutionary, Persecuted, and Undaunted
Mel Gurtov
Keep It in the Ground, Obama
July 06, 2015
MICHAEL HUDSON
Greece Rejects the Troika
Steve Hendricks
Will FIFA’s World Cup Sexism Ever Die?
Binoy Kampmark
Oxi in Greece
Gareth Porter
How US Spin on Access to Iranian Sites has Distorted the Issue
Peter Bach
ISIL and Ramadan in the Rag
Paul Craig Roberts
A Rebuke to EU-Imposed Austerity
Robert Hunziker
Looking Inside Fukushima Prefecture
Quincy Saul
The View from Mount Olympus
ADRIENNE PINE, RICHARD JOHNSTON, FIONA WILMOT, et al.
Seven Reasons to Scrap the USA’s $1 Billion Aid Package to Central America
Norman Pollack
Capitalism’s Self-Revealing Practices
David Macaray
Could Justice Scalia Be the One to Rescue Labor?
Linn Washington Jr.
Storm Smashes Chris Christie’s Presidential Candidacy
Benjamin Willis
US and Cuba: What Remains to be Done?
Robert David Steele
The National Military Strategy: Dishonest Platitudes
Joan Roelofs
Whatever Happened to Eastern European Communism?
Weekend Edition
July 3-5, 2015
Mike Whitney
The Pentagon’s “2015 Strategy” For Ruling the World
Jason Hirthler
Going Off-Script in St. Petersburg
Rob Urie
Greece and Global Class War
DIMITRIS KONSTANTAKOPOULOS
The Future of Greece Without Illusions
ANDRE VLTCHEK
Ecuador Fights for Survival – Against its Elites
David Rosen
White Skin Crisis
Jerry Lembcke
Nobody Spat on American GIs!
Stavros Mavroudeas
The Greek Referendum and the Tasks of the Left
Andrew Levine
Dumping on Dixie Again
Richard Pithouse
Charleston (It’s Not Over)
Arun Gupta
What Does It Mean to Call Dylann Roof a “Terrorist”?
Michael Welton
The Tragedy of Harper’s Canada
Brendan McQuade
The Right Wing Resurgence and the Problem of Terrorism
Chris Floyd
Heritage and Hokum in Rebel Banner Row