Thursday, July 29, 2010

Karl Rove, The Great War on Terror "Strategist"

In today's Wall Street Journal, opinion section, we have a special treat. Karl Rove the master GOP "strategist" provides us with the proper mindset we need to achieve "victory" in Afghanistan . . .

Wars involve tactical shifts and adjustments. But they also involve "red lines"—and in Afghanistan, the red line must be to defeat al Qaeda and the irreconcilable elements of the Taliban, and to keep them from seizing power again.

The American and British people who are being asked to support this costly effort must know that is our objective. So must the Afghan people, who have seen much the last year to raise doubts about our resolve. And so must the Taliban and al Qaeda. America's enemies need to understand one thing above all else: They cannot outlast us and, if they try, they will be broken and defeated.

Victory in Afghanistan requires two things: the right strategy and the resolve to see it through. Mr. Obama wisely recruited Gen. David Petraeus to head the Afghan campaign. There is no one better equipped to execute a successful counterinsurgency campaign. He is both the father of the "surge" in Iraq and the person most responsible for implementing it. If Gen. Petraeus has the time and support he needs, he can bring similar success in Afghanistan.

"Similar success in Afghanistan" . . . that is the chimera of success, or ambiguously perceived defeat packaged in such a way that it can be sold to the rubes as "victory". It just might take some time though . . . like another 10-15-50 years, but as long as the money's there and the war profiteering investors happy . . . Overall there is a certain timelessness about this war view. Rove could have written the same thing in 2004, 2005, 2006 . . . Time is only measured in terms of the duration of our presence, never in terms of lost windows of opportunity, in time wasted due to incompetent leadership or even a strategic vacuum. America always gets a second chance.

Back to Rove:

Winston Churchill demonstrated that in war, words matter. They signal resolve or weakness, fortitude or doubt. Right now, the uncertain trumpet of Mr. Obama's words—those he has said and those he has chosen not to say—is emboldening adversaries, alarming allies, undermining confidence in the U.S., and dispiriting those who fight in dark and dangerous places for our security and liberty.

The president can and must correct those impressions—beginning with an unambiguous statement that America will stay and get the job done. Only the president can reassure our partners and allies, and strike the fear of God into our enemies. The world is looking for him to act as a commander in chief.

Mr. Obama has acted impressively so far on Afghanistan. He changed strategy based on facts on the ground, increased our troops by tens of thousands, and picked exactly the right man to lead our military into battle.

The president has the right pieces in place. Now he needs to signal to the world that he believes in the cause with all his heart. Let's hope he does.

So many unquestioned assumptions behind his narrative, where would one begin to unravel them? Obviously Rove considers himself an expert on this subject given his background, which also says a lot.

How about these five?

1. We are engaged with an existential threat that wishes to both harm us and take away our liberty.

2. Afghanistan is the right place to fight this threat, but not necessarily the only place. The overall war aim is one of remaking Afghanistan to suit our purposes, essentially a clean sweep.

3. We can only defeat ourselves, it is only a lack or resolve among our leaders reflected in their poor choice of words that can lead us to defeat in this war. Time is always on our side. Essentially we are "too big to fail".

4. Only ever increasing levels of violence - the emphasis is clearly on military action, on military victory, will assure success. Success is only defined in military terms. Hand-wringing squeamishness is only defeatism.

5. Politics = power = war. You win by having broken the other side, having them accept your view even to their own disadvantage. Whether at home or abroad, it makes no difference.


  1. Whenever I glance through glop like this, it reinforces to me proof of the huge disconnect between our nation's "intelligentsia", the chattering class, the think-tankinistas, the war-hawks in our media and the rest of the country. Even here in the Middle-of-Nowhere Red State Kansas, the best support you can find in my neighborhood for the PWOT is tepid.

    There are more stories like this appearing:

    The figures in recent years are staggering.

    The number of soldiers committing suicide has increased since 2004, surpassing civilian rates in 2008. Use of prescription drugs has tripled in the past five years; prescription amphetamines use has doubled between 2006 and 2009. One third of soldiers take at least one prescription drug and 14 percent of soldiers are on some form of powerful painkiller.

    The economy is still struggling at home and there are no signs of it getting better quickly. There is rot in government.

    So what are folk like Rove saying here, when they write pablum like this?

    Like I give a flyin' fart.

    We like the maverick, the hope and change, the New Dawn, and we vote for it, but we do not seem to get the type of leadership anywhere that will live up to that bold label. No one to do what is right because it's the right thing to do. I'm still trying to figure out Obama, such a disappointment.

    If these guys were farmers, they wouldn't last long.

    I suppose this properly belongs elsewhere, but I think it's important enough to put here, where things are current.

    I had a good time in Vegas, so I didn’t spend a huge amount of time at NN, but I did spend enough time to take in the mood, and it was schizophrenic. About half the people there are some combination of angry, disappointed and bitter with Democrats in general and Obama in particular. This group sees him as not a heck of a lot better than George Bush, and in fact the Democrat who extended some of Bush’s worst policies, especially in civil liberties. This includes a lot of feminists (angry at what they see as betrayals on abortion), many Hispanics angry at the continued harsh enforcement of immigration laws, gays who feel Obama has betrayed clear promises on gay rights, anti-war activists saddened by escalation in Afghanistan and elsewhere, and a mishmash of folks who think health care reform was a dog’s breakfast and that the general way the economy and financial reform has been handled is a disgrace.

    Then there are the folks who would characterize themselves, in general, as hard nosed pragmatists and “realists”. These range from the “Obama is the greatest liberal president since FDR” types, who think that the Obama is just wonderful and those progressives and liberals who don’t agree are simply delusional to those who feel that a lot of what he’s done has been watered down pap in general but that it’s certainly better than nothing and that those who are disappointed are unrealistic idealists who simply don’t understand the constraints Obama and Congressional Democrats are working under.

    There is ferment among the electorate, from Tea Baggers to NetRoots, and I heard last night on one of the news shows I frequent that there is an online organization of the unemployed.

    I'd like to hope there's some revolution afoot.


  2. Seydlitz, why do you read this shit?

    Basil, I agree about "nice."

  3. Publius-

    Because it tells me stuff.

    It's like back in the bad ole days . . . Watching the grandees perched on the top of Lenin's tomb . . . or what the East German Army came out with on 7 October. What the latest Russian defector had to say. What . . .

    Same stuff today, but different mediums, mass open-source mediums, and a different culture, our culture in crisis this time.

    That, and a different tomb for the elite to perch themselves on.

  4. Yeah, I understand. Gotta know what the enemy's up to and it was unfair of me to ask that question. But, you know, I read the WSJ every day. Most schizophrenic publication out there. Super good news coverage, and not just on financial issues, but pathetic editorial and op-ed section.

    I scan the opinion stuff, sometimes reading a particularly weird editorial or a letter to the editor. But I think your post is the first time I've ever read any of Turd Blossom's shit. The man's just not right.

  5. Even Hitler managed to score the occasional Manstein and von Rundstedt.

    Who the hell do we get?

    Fat Man and Little Cheney-boy...

    And to think that my Army brothers are humping the mountains of A-stan while this sorry wad of fuck prances and preens and gets his idiot rhetoric on the editorial page of the WSJ...

    I'm sick, disgusted, and most of all just tired. Tired of these bloated bastards sending off good men to die for their moron-grade cluelessness. Tired of the persistence of these fuckers, like smug zombies that neither fire nor beheading will destroy, popping up again and again to spew their chattering-teeth lunacy. Tired of the 27-percenters for coddling and drooling over these homunculi.

    God, I'm tired of this shit.

  6. Publius-

    Agree on WSJ, very much a mixed bag. Funny how supportive Rove is of Obama here . . . but not soooo surprising since he has shown his utility as to maintaining the momentum or even supplying legitimacy to what Bush & Co put in motion.


    I've got relief on the way . . . the counter to Rove is Bacevich . . .

  7. And to think that my Army brothers are humping the mountains of A-stan . . .

    umm, Chief, your fire is misdirected. According to the heretics here, the biggest worry your brothers have is "lustful ( homosexual ) writhing" in their cold, cold shelters.

    I picked that phrase up somewhere. ;)

    seydlitz, if you mean Bacevich at Huffpost, yeah, can't wait to read your take on that. Should be good.

    Hello to Publius! You gonna get your political rear in gear and campaign for Alvie?

    Bright, shiny, sun-shiny day here in the MoNW, should get close to a hundred.


  8. basil: I can remember being so cold that I would have actually contemplated lustful writhing had it not been absolutely clear that it would have frozen stiff, shall we say, and snapped off before it even cleared my field pants buttons...

    Being cold in the field just sucks. Especially wet cold, especially for light infantry. You can't carry a lot of spare dry clothes, and you can't really keep the wet out forever; if you're out in the tules long enough the wet finds a way to get through even the best wet-weather gear.

    We had guys who would put on their CPOGs just to help stay warm. Damn. That brought a lot of memories back I'd rather have forgotten.

  9. Nice post seydlitz.

    Travelling this week and commenting on via my phone is tedius, so I'll just say something about the wsj. Someone once said that the wsj news pages told readers what they need to hear while the opinion pages told them what they want to hear