Nearly three years ago, Barrack Obama was looking into how to withdraw American forces from Afghanistan. He had plenty of reasons to - it was a hole for tax money, the fight clearly wasn't working, American citizens were dying to prop up a transparently crooked regime of gangsters. Really, withdrawal was the only option for a responsible leader who cared about his country*.
Unfortunately, Barry had recently appointed Stanley McChrystal as the man on the ground. Now whether the media hagiographies went to his head or if he was always a narcissistic jackass is unclear, but General McChrystal fought his own President to not only keep American soldiers deployed in Afghanistan, but also pressured for more troops. And he did it in the manner of a passive-aggressive teenager on Facebook, "leaking" his feelings on the matter to any and all who would listen.
He won. You can thank Stanley McChrystal and his ego for every American who has died over there since late 2009.
How a General managed such a political goal against his own President is our subject today. Most Americans are still under the impression that we have three branches, the military being within the Executive and therefore beholden to the President. That's exactly what it says in the Constitution but as eight years of Bush should've taught us, that document is more of a suggestion.
The US Department of Defense is the biggest, wealthiest, and most widespread military force in human history. You don't get that huge without developing some political ambitions of your own and the DoD has had plenty of third-rate academics burrowing into its brain for years now, pitching such things as "full spectrum dominance" and an "American Century" that all pretty much boils down to "Pentagon Uber Alles."
And they are really fucking bad at it.
They were pretty impressive in late 2001. The Clinton Administration built up quite a warfighting machine that swept the Taliban out of power using this country's favorite tactics - bribes and continuous bombing. But then Jooner took that fancy car and rammed it into a wall in Iraq, hemorrhaging not just wealth and material but the few general officers who weren't careerist swine. Seriously, remember the steady wave of resignations in early 2003? It was an inspiring moral stance but it left the military under the control of self-serving ambition machines like David Patreus.
Patreus really turned things around in Iraq. Meaning he helped everyone forget about it. Much had been made of his Enron-style accounting of fatalities in 2007 but few have pointed out his biggest blunder - believing the insurgency was reduced by the SURGE!
Scooch in, kiddies. I'm about to teach you a little Guerrilla 101 - when the occupier is out in force, you go to ground. The insurgents were there because Iraqis were there and any honest assessment of that quagmire will admit that everyone besides Maliki wanted America out. The violence dropped because there was a better chance of being caught and killed. Guerrilla war is a nasty affair where victory goes to whoever can last the longest. This gives the occupied a home court advantage and the fact that a man so often celebrated for literally writing the book on America's counter-insurgency doctrine wouldn't admit this as a likely scenario proves he is either an amoral liar or a tremendous moron.
It could very well be both. If we learned anything from the Bush years, it should've been this culture's depressing habit of elevating those with neither brains nor shame. Patreus sure got elevated, all the way to CENTCOM where he was pretty much second to the president in the chain of command. It still stands as Obama's smartest foreign policy move, shifting that overhyped idiot first to Afghanistan to clean up McChrystal's mess and, when that naturally failed, sequestered him in Langley where his real skill - schmoozing - might actually prove useful.
But Patreus was just a symptom of something larger. Now we've got another potential cluster-fuck in the Middle East. It would be our third attack on a Muslim country and as Gary Brecher said, "we might as well paint red crosses on our chests." Because then it damn will be a war on Islam. A war we'll lose because Muslims are serious people with big families and the brassholes running the Pentagon are just the same monomaniacal imbeciles you find on Wall Street but with shorter haircuts.
*It should be noted the information leading to the assassination of Osama bin Laden was provided by a CIA snitch. "Boots on the ground," as it is commonly called was not a factor in the least.