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Thread: The Petraeus Legacy

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    The Petraeus Legacy

    It's never too early in our all-too-topical U.S. of A to begin discussing the pride of place for any notable luminary. Dave Petraeus is just such a figure. There can be little question as the years roll forward that his name will be right at the top for those seriously discussing Iraq, particularly the years of insurgency following the conquest. Dexter Filkens, always a perceptive observer and incisive writer, has offered his initial view via this thoughtful piece for The New Yorker. It's balanced and devoid of any of the related post-scandal hysteria tainting Petraeus' departure from public life-

    General Principles: How Good Was David Petraeus-Filkens Dec.17, 2012 New Yorker
    "This aggression will not stand, man!" Jeff Lebowski
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    Read the first page before I had to leave for work but so far it's a very impressive article.
    Far better it is to dare mighty things, than to take rank with those poor, timid spirits who know neither victory nor defeat ~ Theodore Roosevelt

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    he made a very good point, the 'Petraeus Doctrine' really did not turn out to be much of a doctrine.

    the article states that this was due to the Doctrine being very Iraq-specific, and this works both ways. the first, the conditions on the ground, the second, the ability for the US to spend money and lives on this very, very resource-intensive strategy.
    There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."- Isaac Asimov

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    If money is ammunition are bankers, therefore, soldiers? Filkens also points out that the Petraeus legacy includes the (suggested) misguided efforts of the Multinational Security Transition Command. Accurate or otherwise, however, Shias would have become armed adversaries to Sunnis sooner rather than later.

    Filkens is harsh in his condemation of the institutionalized mediocrity that our system has rewarded for those seeking stars. While unsurprising during peacetime, it's apparent that no sense of urgency compelled our civil-military leadership to respond to mediocre generalship with any sense of alacrity in the midst of war. Then again, was this really war or some gray "peace-keeping" zone existing between true, unvarnished conflict (war) and business as usual peacetime barracks politics? Dunno but I've always thought war was war. Buildings blow up, blitzkrieg...you know, the usual unfettered chaos of killing, maiming and blood-lust.

    Finally, were the dunder-headed bludgeon inclined generals really wrong? Is it possible in the this day and age, given the legal and fiscal constraints by which we self-govern our actions, to effectively prosecute a nuanced, finely-tuned counter-insurgent strategy?

    Or should we just send in the bankers?
    "This aggression will not stand, man!" Jeff Lebowski
    "The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you're uncool." Lester Bangs

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    Quote Originally Posted by S2 View Post
    If money is ammunition are bankers, therefore, soldiers? Filkens also points out that the Petraeus legacy includes the (suggested) misguided efforts of the Multinational Security Transition Command. Accurate or otherwise, however, Shias would have become armed adversaries to Sunnis sooner rather than later.

    Filkens is harsh in his condemation of the institutionalized mediocrity that our system has rewarded for those seeking stars. While unsurprising during peacetime, it's apparent that no sense of urgency compelled our civil-military leadership to respond to mediocre generalship with any sense of alacrity in the midst of war. Then again, was this really war or some gray "peace-keeping" zone existing between true, unvarnished conflict (war) and business as usual peacetime barracks politics? Dunno but I've always thought war was war. Buildings blow up, blitzkrieg...you know, the usual unfettered chaos of killing, maiming and blood-lust.

    Finally, were the dunder-headed bludgeon inclined generals really wrong? Is it possible in the this day and age, given the legal and fiscal constraints by which we self-govern our actions, to effectively prosecute a nuanced, finely-tuned counter-insurgent strategy?

    Or should we just send in the bankers?
    To be fair,Sir,a colonial war is somewhat milder than a conventional war.For the infantry it was and still is war,as the risk of bad things happening to you is very real.Target practice for the other combat arms and CS arms.Bussiness as usual for everybody else,be them military or civilians.

    Giving the other tribes subsidies worked good enough for the Roman empire when they got bored of killing everybody for the slightest infraction.Of course,they sowed their own demise by doing that,but it takes time.
    Those who know don't speak
    He said to them, "But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. Luke 22:36

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    Filkins also puts a lot of emphasis on "luck", correctly noting that Petraeus would have failed were he not lucky in that several breaks went very much in his favor at the right time.

    and frankly it's hard for our system to differentiate between luck and skill, particularly for mid-level/senior officers. say Petraeus was unlucky and that the Awakening did not occur when he was in command. where would Petraeus be now? a retired, largely unheard-of MG with a temporary good news story in mosul that was later overwhelmed as iraq fell apart?

    moreover politics plays a role the second you are considered for the first star, and an overwhelming one by the time you seek the third.

    as a civilian perhaps i'm a bit biased, but it seems pretty much par for course for your average officer to be able to float up to at least an O-4. O-5 requires some competency but is not particularly hard to get.

    the big jump is to O-6, and another jump to O-7. but again, that jump from O-6 to O-7 already involves politics. and i've seen enough incompetent O-6s running around where one wonders at the competency evaluation protocols.
    There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."- Isaac Asimov

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    astralis your criticism is NOT, it seems to me, of the Petraeus 'doctrine' but of the politicians that made it necessary. Fair enough you can argue that the bankers couldn't afford Iraq (though actually the bankers are all still fine ty having been bailed out by the people) but that is NOT an argument against the mans Generalship. It's not hard to understand... once you're in you're all in and this militarily saves lives and saves money - it ends it quicker. In the Iraqi case he was arguably correct in US terms.

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    snapper,

    astralis your criticism is NOT, it seems to me, of the Petraeus 'doctrine' but of the politicians that made it necessary.
    i'm not criticizing the doctrine so much as noting that what worked in iraq was/is not replicable in afghanistan. it's a country-specific strategy vice a precept of war.

    note that i was for giving petraeus his year, year and a half plus the surge troops to see if his luck AND strategy could work in afghanistan. it's pretty clear that it hasn't. i suspect our decisionmakers now think the same. it's been an education for many people involved (including myself and i surely hope people a lot more important than i'll ever be), at a very high price.
    There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."- Isaac Asimov

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    I'm not sure Iraq has been won.

    To be honest.

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