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

 

More articles by:

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

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

July 27, 2017
Edward Curtin
The Deep State, Now and Then
Melvin Goodman
The Myth of American Exceptionalism
Nozomi Hayase
From Watergate to Russiagate: the Hidden Scandal of American Power
Kenneth Surin
Come Fly the Unfriendly Skies
Andre Vltchek
Philippines: Western Media is Distorting Reality, People and Army Unite to Battle “ISIS”
Robert Fisk
Out of the Ruins of Aleppo: a Syrian Community Begins to Rebuild
Andrew Moss
What is Adelanto?
Thomas Mountain
Free Speech or Terror TV? Al Jazeera’s Support for ISIS and Al Queda
Robert J. - Byers
Jamboree Travesty
Thomas Knapp
Send in the Clown: Scaramucci Versus the Leakers
Rob Seimetz
Because the Night Belonged to Us in St. Petersburg (Florida)
Paul Cantor
Momentum Not Mojo
Patrick Walker
In Defense of Caitlin Johnstone (Part Two)
July 26, 2017
John W. Whitehead
Policing for Profit: Jeff Sessions & Co.’s Thinly Veiled Plot to Rob Us Blind
Pete Dolack
Trump’s Re-Negotiation Proposal Will Make NAFTA Worse
George Capaccio
“Beauty of Our Weapons” in the War on Yemen
Ramzy Baroud
Fear and Trepidation in Tel Aviv: Is Israel Losing the Syrian War?
John McMurtry
Brexit Counter-Revolution Still in Motion
Ted Rall
The Democrats Are A Lost Cause
Tom Gill
Is Macron Already Faltering?
Ed Kemmick
Empty Charges Erode Trust in Montana Elections
Rev. William Alberts
Fake News? Or Fake Faith?
James Heddle
The Ethics and Politics of Nuclear Waste are Being Tested in Southern California
Binoy Kampmark
Slaying in Minneapolis: Justine Damond, Shooting Cultures and Race
Jeff Berg
Jonesing for Real Change
Jesse Jackson
The ‘Voter Fraud’ Commission Itself is Fraudulent
July 25, 2017
Paul Street
A Suggestion for Bernie: On Crimes Detectable and Not
David W. Pear
Venezuela on the Edge of Civil War
John Grant
Uruguay Tells US Drug War to Take a Hike
Charles Pierson
Like Climate Change? You’ll Love the Langevin Amendment
Linda Ford
Feminism Co-opted
Andrew Stewart
Any Regrets About Not Supporting Clinton Last Summer?
Aidan O'Brien
Painting the Irish Titanic Pink
Rob Seimetz
Attitudes Towards Pets vs Attitudes Towards the Natural World
Medea Benjamin
A Global Movement to Confront Drone Warfare
Norman Solomon
When Barbara Lee Doesn’t Speak for Me
William Hawes
What Divides America From the World (and Each Other)
Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity
Was the “Russian Hack” an Inside Job?
Chandra Muzaffar
The Bilateral Relationship that Matters
Binoy Kampmark
John McCain: Cancer as Combatant
July 24, 2017
Patrick Cockburn
A Shameful Silence: Where is the Outrage Over the Slaughter of Civilians in Mosul?
Robert Hunziker
Extremely Nasty Climate Wake-Up
Ron Jacobs
Dylan and Woody: Goin’ Down the Road Feelin’ Bad
Dan Glazebrook
Quantitative Easing: the Most Opaque Transfer of Wealth in History
Ellen Brown
Saving Illinois: Getting More Bang for the State’s Bucks
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail