Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Chrystal Clear

A clever man commits
no minor blunders

Be, all that you can be

in the Army

--Army recruitment jingle


[The previous post here contains an excellent discussion thread, which should continue. Ranger just wanted to place his bets -- which he did prior to the UK Telegraph's reporting last night that McChrystal would tender his resignation.]

In the past, Ranger predicted General David Petraeus would be the 2012 Republican presidential candidate running on the platform, "We lost because Obama didn't fight the good fight, etc."

It is possible that he was four stars off in his prediction? Another interpretation of the current McChrystal brouhaha is that the General is intentionally forcing the moment to a crisis, to bolster his chance to run for the presidency in 2012. What could be a better vote-getter than the game plan that is presently playing out?

New, updated Ranger Prediction: If McChrystal stands up to "I know whose ass to kick" Obama and holds his ground, then this is the opening salvo in the 2012 presidential campaign.
McChrystal knows that Petraeus will be the Army Chief of Staff and that he therefore has no chance to occupy that slot.

Why not go for the gusto?
No guts, no glory.


  1. Chief's Prediction: Obama has already lost. By "meeting" with McChrystal instead of simply demanding - and getting - his head, he looks weak and foolish. We'll have to see if the GOP then taps a general to run in 2012 to make the MacArthur-Truman analogy complete.

  2. Well, so much for that theory.

  3. Time will tell jim, time will tell. I still think there are many who harbor hope for the Palin-Patreaus ticket in 2012 -- and General Stan was just one way for Fainting Dave to keep the muck that is Afghanistan off his boots. Now Obama has wrong-footed Dave by making him eat the sh*t sandwich! Now, Dave can start OWNING what he's owned all along... and reap the whirlwind when it does not pan out in a way that makes him smell rosy.

    Now, if we could only get the REAL debate going about Afghanistan. The one that we deserved the first time around before the escalation. Too bad Obama wrong-footed himself and doubled down on "winning" what is surely unwinnable. Personally, I would put VP Biden in charge of the whole caboodle and let him wind it down along the defensive counter terrorism path (as opposed to the nation building COIN thicket we're in now).

    @Publius, you're comment yesterday was absolutely spot on and completely capture my own feelings about the moral cowardice that permeates much of our officer corps (and our national security apparatus for that matter). So spot on I would almost claim we are brothers from another mother. Where I come from, your remarks deserve a rousing Bravo Zulu.


  4. Well, I would suggest that Mr. Obama has shown the generals how the hard ball political game works. The man may not be worth a shit as a president, but he does know this stuff. Now that the Afghan albatross is firmly wrapped around his neck, Petraeus is neutralized when it comes to 2012. He's in a box: everybody knows Afghanistan is a shit sandwich; it's going to be mighty difficult for King David to stop taking tasty bites so that he can schmooze with the Republican lunatic fringe. If he bails, he's a coward and a quitter. If he doesn't—which he won't because of that whole coward and quitter thing, you know, posterity, reputation and all of that—the Afghanistan tar baby will so consume him that even Sarah Palin won't kiss him on the lips.

    McChrystal? Ranger, I will be amazed if he even thinks about a foray into politics. I suspect the man knows his limitations. You know, I have a lot of experience being one of these super-secret, special dudes, and I will tell you this: the last thing in the world you want to see is me or anyone else from the weird, twilight zone of secret shit being in charge of anything important. It ain't what we do. We may do what we do very well, but it's often more than R-rated, involving as it does tip-toeing around laws, regulations, you name it. We also get used to being around others like us, most of whom are very intelligent and devious, very loyal, but with their own standards of conduct. Generally great guys, in my experience, but sometimes not folks of whom your mom might approve. Clandestine work is strange and often bizarre. It's the ultimate insider work and those who practice it get used to a certain style of operating. McChrystal was laid low because he and his staff didn't appreciate the difference between their old world and the new one they were in. No matter how good he is—and he is good—he was never a good fit for that job.

    Nah, Big Army needs to be in charge of these things. It is really a shame that it's proven wanting at doing so. Along with 9/11 and a semi-depression, the big story of the 21st Century thus far is the total absence of anything resembling a coherent national security on the part of the National Command Authority and the collapse of the authority and credibility of US military flag and general officers. The people occupying the high offices and making the big bucks have failed the nation. And the generals have failed the troops. They're beneath contempt.

    SP: thanks for the kind words. I like your style, too. But, hey, why is it that whenever I go to your site to look for a scintillating and thought-provoking post, I see that the last post was in March? I'm dying to get over there and say good things (or not, depending on my mood), but you're giving me pretty thin gruel.

  5. Well, I'm happy to be proved wrong on this. I was ready to spit fire hearing that Obama wanted to have a cozy little chat with his loudmouthed theatre commander before frying his oysters. Good on him for having the sack to hand McC his head.

    As far as being in charge of these things, I think that part of the problem is that back in 2002 Donny Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney helped grab the reins of power for DoD - with the assistance of DoS, which didn't want to lead as far as I can tell - and as a result the Army has been doing things that should really be done by State Department officers and political operators. Our general officer corps is proving surprisingly inept at the sort of thing we used to do quite well (back in 1945m anyway).

    Sad, really.

    But good to see Obama taking charge on this. He may be outpoliticked in other respects, but he appears to have succeeded in this case.

  6. jim,

    funny to read your post today about a possible "master plan." In the community I work, Stan the Man is very well known. And a very common statement by several officers I know who worked for him all said that it was so very unusual and "unlike Stan."

    I agree with Publius that the scenario is unlikely, but your sentiment is shared by many who know Stan well.

  7. You know, the more I think about it, the more unlikely I believe it is that either Petraeus or McChrystal might end up as the undercard on a Sarah Palin presidential run. Despite my disdain for both of these guys, the fact is they're both gifted intellectually and have some real-world accomplishments. I frankly can't see either of them accepting a subordinate position to a braying jackass such as Palin or any of the other jackasses in the modern Republican Party.

    These guys aren't stupid. Do they want to be associated with the bigots and anti-intellectuals known laughingly as the leadership of the Republican Party? How do you think they'd do sucking up to Rush Limbaugh? I'd be surprised if either of these guys is a racist—in fact, I doubt any modern senior officer is—so ISTM the Republican Party, AKA the white peoples' party, might be a little hard to take. It ight be easy for a general to support the Republicans in the abstract, especially if they're worshipping you, but once you become one of them, you are one of them. Most generals I've known don't want to be around weirdos and wackos. And they sure don't want to be lumped in with them.

    Note that McChrystal voted for Obama. How does that square with being Sarah Palin's running mate?

    I recall how uncomfortable Wesley Clark always was with the Democratic Party. And that party is the thinking party. It's also not run by total wackjobs.

    I can see McChrystal or Petraeus running for the Senate. Not the presidency. I don't think they'd want to pay the price.

  8. I don't see McChrystal running for any office, Senate or Pres or anything else. He is originally from Tennessee so could easily be elected there. But he is politically tone deaf. The Chattanooga Times where he hails from described him as a well-mannered, intellectual history buff. :-)

    Well, maybe not so much anymore. A lot of people never forgave the guy for his role in the Tillman cover-up. But this time I think he got screwed by his own staff. What the hey were they doing drinking beer and talking scheisse for a month with a Rolling Stones reporter anyway. Is this the new Army? Never would have happened in my father's day or in mine.

  9. Has anyone mentioned McChrystal's involvement with the Pat Tillman case?

    ISTM that's big political baggage, and worse, a shameful defect of character.


  10. Based on bg's comment that General Stan's conduct in the entire affair, I can still be convinced that he (or he and others) decided to play the PR game to box the POTUS, played it poorly and suffered the fates. There are A LOT of questionable strategic comm and influence operations theories swirling around at the top (as if we win because we out-PR the other guy!!!), so its not impossible that they all got caught up in some little game.

    I also think its possible that they were just plain stupid. Never underestimate the power of incompetence.

    Of possible outcomes, we've seen about the best. If it were me, I would have had Stan's, Dave's and Mike's heads. And then promoted to 4 star some of those young guys down in the Bgen, COL and LCOL ranks. Those guys have been there really and done that. (Not all of them as the white wash of the Campbell Report makes clear - After careful consideration of the additional information, Campbell concluded that the officers were neither negligent nor derelict in the performance of their duties and that their actions were reasonable under the circumstances. Therefore, he withdrew the adverse administrative actions. - YGTBFKM!) McMasters would be a good start.

    @Publius, thanks for being loyal!! Its been a quite busy spring as I extricate myself from service (ie - join the retired ranks). So, at best I get to catch up on my blog reading and drop a few thoughts here and there. Guess I'll try to be more frequent and less occaisional there!


  11. TO ALL,
    I haven't linked any Army officer to being in bed with Palin , or being her ally.
    I said that they were shooting for 2012 nomination. This is not the same as being a Palinista.
    Yep, Obama checked Pet in a big way.
    I stand behind my predictions.

  12. TO ALL,
    Ifind it supremely ironic that McC and Pet can lie to Congress and deceive the American people into believing that there is a winning hand in AFGH.
    We promote and reward their lies.
    When they tell the truth they get relieved.
    The honor and integrity is exactly ass backwards.
    I'll post on this soon.
    I'm sorry for my lack of participation, but i'm on a hotel computer and have had severe difficulty getting comments posted.

  13. Publius,
    Your comments are exactly what i've written numerous times.
    My point has always been that the POTUS should never be chosen from the intel community.
    IE-Bush 1.
    Dirty is as dirty does. Of course i'm giving you a pass, since i know your a gentle man.

  14. To all,
    The cynicism that i feel is palpable and i don't need to be here at the Mayo to be diagnosed.
    The real shame of this McC thing is that his closest associates KNOW that the war is a shit sandwich, but yet continue to throw soldiers into the meat grinder.
    This is the punishable offense and NOT calling a bunch of wimps a bunch of wimps. They are wimps , but so is fucking McC with all his scare badges and tabs. He's a wimp because he didn't say the ultimate truth.
    So much for the truth.
    This is the key point imho.

  15. To me the most frustrating part of all this is the frigging nonsense it provoked about what a wonderful, inspiring, commander this guy was, how indispensible he was, how cool it was that he slept on the floor and ate cold "C"s and pounded rocks on his penis to get all badass because that's what it would take to beat the Evil Baddies. Honestly, it was like bad Star Wars slash fiction where the 14-year-olds get all swoony over how cool and scary Darth Vader is.

    I mean, here was an opportunity to take a hard, honest look at what the hell we're doing in central Asia. Everything points, as several of us have mentioned, that this entire business is more fucked up and less do-able than anyone is willing to come out and say. The tongue bath that Karzai gave the guy made me wonder how deep into the entire corrupt Afghan mess this general and his cronies are - are we doing deals with the Dark Side to kill the enemies of the moment? What does it way that the "indispensible" guy, the guy who was supposed to "get it" that this wasn't about capping muj, was clearly pissed off and moaning about the political restrictions placed on him by the WH?

    But, no. It turned into political soap opera, it turned into a mister-and-missus, and now that Slick Dave is in charge the caissons will just keep rolling along.

    Count me disgusted.

  16. I have to admit that all these theories about the supposed political ambitions of Petreaus or McChrystal or whomever don't make much sense to me. Given that there's no real evidence of such ambitions, what we're left with is a kind of tabloid speculation that I don't find very convincing. McChrystal? Oh, if only the Democrats could be so lucky.

  17. Chief: hard, honest looks at central asia are wasted effort when examining the important aspects of counting coup inside the beltway.

    Asian outcomes matter not a whit, except so far as they affect personal ambitions and the wealth of the corporate lords.

    The Washington Ice Cream Cone just gave itself another severe licking this week.

  18. Andy: Not sure about jim, but I never thought McChrystal had political ambitions. But I think he, like MacArthur, hoped to use the political ambitions of the GOP to further his military agenda. As Publius pointed out, there's too much dirt in McChrystal's super secret 2-1 to have made him a viable candidate, even to the teabaggers. OK, well, maybe everybody BUT the teabaggers.

    But, frankly, the knobbing McChrystal got from the fanboy media was pretty revolting, what with the whole "sleeps 4 hours a night and eats cold "C"s to be with the boys in the field" stuff. What it always reminded me of was the parts of the Hanzo the Razor movies where ol' Hanzo beats on his pecker to make it stronger. I wonder if the guy has a bale of rice with a hole in it somwhere in his TOC trailer..?

  19. Chief,
    If Palin can cut it , then why not Mc C?
    GHWB was POTUS and he was CIA dirty, so this is not a disqualifer.
    I'm sorry for the late entry, but we've been having admin problems and every cmt i made on the road was lost in the ether world.
    Very frustrating.
    Let's remember that we're all friends here.