FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

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

 

Franklin “Chuck” Spinney is a former military analyst for the Pentagon and a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, published by AK Press. He be reached at chuck_spinney@mac.com

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
May 27, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
Silencing America as It Prepares for War
Rob Urie
By the Numbers: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are Fringe Candidates
Andrew Levine
Hillary’s Gun Gambit
Paul Street
Feel the Hate
Daniel Raventós - Julie Wark
Basic Income Gathers Steam Across Europe
Gunnar Westberg
Close Calls: We Were Much Closer to Nuclear Annihilation Than We Ever Knew
Jeffrey St. Clair
Hand Jobs: Heidegger, Hitler and Trump
S. Brian Willson
Remembering All the Deaths From All of Our Wars
Dave Lindorff
With Clinton’s Nixonian Email Scandal Deepening, Sanders Must Demand Answers
Pete Dolack
Millions for the Boss, Cuts for You!
Peter Lee
To Hell and Back: Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Karl Grossman
Long Island as a Nuclear Park
Binoy Kampmark
Sweden’s Assange Problem: The District Court Ruling
Robert Fisk
Why the US Dropped Its Demand That Assad Must Go
Martha Rosenberg – Ronnie Cummins
Bayer and Monsanto: a Marriage Made in Hell
Brian Cloughley
Pivoting to War
Stavros Mavroudeas
Blatant Hypocrisy: the Latest Late-Night Bailout of Greece
Arun Gupta
A War of All Against All
Dan Kovalik
NPR, Yemen & the Downplaying of U.S. War Crimes
Randy Blazak
Thugs, Bullies, and Donald J. Trump: The Perils of Wounded Masculinity
Murray Dobbin
Are We Witnessing the Beginning of the End of Globalization?
Daniel Falcone
Urban Injustice: How Ghettos Happen, an Interview with David Hilfiker
Gloria Jimenez
In Honduras, USAID Was in Bed with Berta Cáceres’ Accused Killers
Kent Paterson
The Old Braceros Fight On
Lawrence Reichard
The Seemingly Endless Indignities of Air Travel: Report from the Losing Side of Class Warfare
Peter Berllios
Bernie and Utopia
Stan Cox – Paul Cox
Indonesia’s Unnatural Mud Disaster Turns Ten
Linda Pentz Gunter
Obama in Hiroshima: Time to Say “Sorry” and “Ban the Bomb”
George Souvlis
How the West Came to Rule: an Interview with Alexander Anievas
Julian Vigo
The Government and Your i-Phone: the Latest Threat to Privacy
Stratos Ramoglou
Why the Greek Economic Crisis Won’t be Ending Anytime Soon
David Price
The 2016 Tour of California: Notes on a Big Pharma Bike Race
Dmitry Mickiewicz
Barbarous Deforestation in Western Ukraine
Rev. William Alberts
The United Methodist Church Up to Its Old Trick: Kicking the Can of Real Inclusion Down the Road
Patrick Bond
Imperialism’s Junior Partners
Mark Hand
The Trouble with Fracking Fiction
Priti Gulati Cox
Broken Green: Two Years of Modi
Marc Levy
Sitrep: Hometown Unwelcomes Vietnam Vets
Lorenzo Raymond
Why Nonviolent Civil Resistance Doesn’t Work (Unless You Have Lots of Bombs)
Ed Kemmick
New Book Full of Amazing Montana Women
Michael Dickinson
Bye Bye Legal High in Backwards Britain
Missy Comley Beattie
Wanted: Daddy or Mommy in Chief
Ed Meek
The Republic of Fear
Charles R. Larson
Russian Women, Then and Now
David Yearsley
Elgar’s Hegemony: the Pomp of Empire
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail