From the Editors’ Desk: Petraeus’ Advice for the “Long War” Against Islamism

 

384px-DCIA_David_PetraeusA few days ago in the Washington Post, David Patraeus published a list of lessons the United States should learn from the past fifteen years. What follows is a highly abridged version:

First, it is increasingly apparent that ungoverned spaces in a region stretching from West Africa through the Middle East and into Central Asia will be exploited by Islamic extremists who want to establish sanctuaries in which they can enforce their extremist version of Islam and from which they can conduct terrorist attacks. Second, it is also apparent that the attacks and other activities of such extremists will not be confined to the areas or regions in which they are located. […] Third, it is also increasingly clear that, in responding to these challenges, U.S. leadership is imperative. […] Churchill was right when he observed, “There is only one thing worse than fighting with allies, and that is fighting without them.” And, if one of those partners wants to walk point — such as France in Mali — we should support it, while recognizing that we still may have to contribute substantially. Fourth, it is becoming clear that the path the United States and coalition partners pursue has to be comprehensive and not just a narrow counter-terrorism approach. It is increasingly apparent that more than precision strikes and special operations raids are needed. […] Fifth, and finally, it is clear that the U.S.-led effort will have to be sustained for what may be extended periods of time — and that reductions in our level of effort should be guided by conditions on the ground rather than fixed timetables.

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  1. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    while we’re on the topic…

    Kingdom Come or Kingdom Gone? Saudi Arabia and the Future of the Middle East,

    • #1
  2. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    The Petraeus recommendations only make sense if you presume leaders with character, some core bipartisan support (like the Cold War consensus) an d a public with confidence in that leadership and the patience to endure the inevitable costs.

    None of those conditions apply. The worst, least principled, most incompetent American President ever is now in office.  His predecessor drained a great deal of confidence and reserve of patience with a slow learning curve in protracted, ill-managed wars.

    Lastly, there is loss of the optimistic presumption regarding liberating other peoples.  In WWII we drove out the bad guys and the liberated peoples restored or created democratic, free market regimes.  Americans assumed that is the norm that when you liberate people, the natural state that resumes when tyranny is removed.

    Muslims have shown us that this not true.  Bad regimes are removed and they resort to their natural state: tribalism, a return the violent roots of their religion and an absence of the cultural and personal virtues required to sustain a lawful, uncorrupted democracy.  There is little point in Americans dying for the fiction of western secular rights-based governance for Muslim people.

    This is not to say there will be no military engagement.  Islamist idiocy will by nature choose to provoke it.  But such a war of necessity will become a more vengeful enterprise and less a crusade to bring/preserve democracy.

    • #2
  3. BrentB67 Inactive
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    Reading the portion offered here motivates some initial conclusions:

    He, like too many, fails to acknowledge the threat.

    He thinks that surgical, precise, special operations raids can counter the threat when mostly they have proved to temporarily disrupt and scatter the threat to other ungoverned portions of the region he describes.

    His prescription fails to acknowledge our lack of financial patriotic wherewithal to pursue such a broad strategy across expansive geography.

    • #3
  4. cdor Member
    cdor
    @cdor

    Old Bathos:

    Very much inclined to agree with your well stated comment, Old Bathos. Afghanistan will return to almost precisely what it was before we attacked in 2001. Fifteen years and there will be little to show for it when we leave, except for too many Americans dead or damaged. Iraq, well I have to admit, Joe Biden may have actually been correct 10 years ago when he suggested breaking it up into Sunni, Kurdish, and Shiite countries. Nevertheless, we almost succeeded except for the first paragraph of OB’s comment. So how do we win these wars when we cannot even rely on ourselves to maintain a strength of mission and a vision of the future?

    Perhaps the only success can be from a defensive posture. If we suffer from their actions, we go in so hard, with unrestricted ROE,  pulverize, and leave. It is very frustrating.

    • #4
  5. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    Petraeus knows all about co-opting the enemy abroad and nothing about the co-opted homefront.  Wait, he knows all about that.  Send the Army wherever you want, but if it’s bigger than rescuing a bunch of college students from a breadbox, it’s a lost cause.

    You go to war with the homefront you have, not the one you want.  We will never again have the stack of advantages that we had going into Afghanistan and Iraq, and both of those are a complete wash.  I don’t want to hear about how well some parts of Iraq are doing — ISIS is what happened instead of succeeding in Iraq, and now we have our own Marines firing artillery over there because they can’t come up with one Friggin’ Iraqi Arty company?  Today the Army said they would send another 271 troops, and some helicopters.  Who fights like this?  Domestic enemies trying to squeak along to the next inauguration.

    We will NEVER see it as good as we had it trying to fight in Iraq with this fickle, treacherous homefront, and that failed miserably.  “Lessons Learned”, my Six Element.  These are the regrets of a disgraced has-been dressed up to sell copy somewhere.  If Petraeus has anything valuable to say, he should say it about what happened in Benghazi before he was helpfully shuffled off the stage, and have that Broadwell chick put it in a book, a real bodice-ripper!

    How dare he show his face.

    • #5
  6. Jeffery Shepherd Inactive
    Jeffery Shepherd
    @JefferyShepherd

    “the US-led effort…” Surprised to hear there is such a thing after 7 years of vacuity.

    • #6
  7. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    Brace up, boys — this is the first time I have heard the term “Long War” used outside of my own scrawlings in close to a decade.  That war is now here and in Europe.  They got a great big long runway at Lemonnier and a stack of cold beer in Bahrain, but the rest of this war will be fought on our own soil.

    The Obama administration has ceded the choice of battlefield.

    • #7
  8. James Gawron Inactive
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    Ball Diamond Ball:Petraeus knows all about co-opting the enemy abroad and nothing about the co-opted homefront. Wait, he knows all about that. Send the Army wherever you want, but if it’s bigger than rescuing a bunch of college students from a breadbox, it’s a lost cause.

    You go to war with the homefront you have, not the one you want. We will never again have the stack of advantages that we had going into Afghanistan and Iraq, and both of those are a complete wash. I don’t want to hear about how well some parts of Iraq are doing — ISIS is what happened instead of succeeding in Iraq, and now we have our own Marines firing artillery over there because they can’t come up with one Friggin’ Iraqi Arty company? Today the Army said they would send another 271 troops, and some helicopters. Who fights like this? Domestic enemies trying to squeak along to the next inauguration.

    We will NEVER see it as good as we had it trying to fight in Iraq with this fickle, treacherous homefront, and that failed miserably. “Lessons Learned”, my Six Element. These are the regrets of a disgraced has-been dressed up to sell copy somewhere. If Petraeus has anything valuable to say, he should say it about what happened in Benghazi before he was helpfully shuffled off the stage, and have that Broadwell chick put it in a book, a real bodice-ripper!

    How dare he show his face.

    BDB,

    I won’t argue with most of the things you say but I must make you realize that right at this moment he might be very important to winning the homefront war you describe.

    cont.

    • #8
  9. James Gawron Inactive
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    cont. from #8

    It’s all about Broadwell. First, we live in this bizarre double standard universe where conservatives play by one set of sexual morals and the left plays by no morals whatsoever. Broadwell pursued him not the other way around! When Ike had his affair with his driver in WWII I don’t think it was the drivers idea. I doubt it with Broadwell. Women today are educated and business savvy. They have their own money and their own interests. She wanted to do the biography on him and she wanted him too. The left endlessly plays the women as the victim never the man. If there ever was a situation in which the man was the victim this was it.

    Now, what about the homefront war? Broadwell and her laptop had the highest security clearance. There is no evidence that the information leaked or could have been hacked. HRCs bathroom server was being tended to by a company that probably didn’t know what a security clearance was much less have one. Guccifer hacked the Hilldogs computer and the entire business of the United States Dept of State was on it. Petraeus and Broadwell deserved a slap on the wrist. HRC should be in jail already.

    One last thing, Petraeus did a very good job with the surge. It wasn’t his fault that the Administration he was working for were slow learners. We ought to look at everything that worked in the surge and analyze why it worked. Might come in handy.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #9
  10. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    Ball Diamond Ball:The Obama administration has ceded the choice of battlefield.

    Barry is way ahead of you.  Rather than select the battlefield, he is already working on his version of Appomattox/Versailles/Deck of the Missouri to surrender the West to whoever steps up to take it.  He and idiot boy Kerry are sitting alone at the table with their little white flag, waiting for Russian, Iran, China and the Islamofascists to decide who gets what.

    • #10
  11. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    James Gawron:BDB,

    I won’t argue with most of the things you say but I must make you realize that right at this moment he might be very important to winning the homefront war you describe.

    cont.

    It’s your lucky day, as you don’t must make me realize anything.  I read what he wrote.  We only need mistress-equipped generals like him when we’re trying to do it friendly-like over there.  When we have to do it over here for dear life, sophisticated DC politicians, in uniform or out, will be cheaper than dirt.

    • #11
  12. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    James Gawron: One last thing, Petraeus did a very good job with the surge. It wasn’t his fault that the Administration he was working for were slow learners. We ought to look at everything that worked in the surge and analyze why it worked. Might come in handy.

    Yeah, that’s been done, and it will come in handy for DHS pacifying the remnants of the US.  Meanwhile, I don’t blame him for some minor flaw like somebody being slow learners.

    He, like you, should realize that this country is not what is used to be — this thing is a bald spare with belts showing.  Not useful in a crisis.  Not to the good guys anyway.

    • #12
  13. James Gawron Inactive
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    Ball Diamond Ball:

    James Gawron:BDB,

    I won’t argue with most of the things you say but I must make you realize that right at this moment he might be very important to winning the homefront war you describe.

    cont.

    It’s your lucky day, as you don’t must make me realize anything. I read what he wrote. We only need mistress-equipped generals like him when we’re trying to do it friendly-like over there. When we have to do it over here for dear life, sophisticated DC politicians, in uniform or out, will be cheaper than dirt.

    BDB,

    Apparently, Ike wasn’t up to D-Day because he too had a monogamous war theater affair while his wife was at home. I’m not justifying Petraeus and certainly not Broadwell. However, just think of Barney Frank’s homosexual prostitute ring running out of his basement and then think of the damage done because Frank was still on the banking committee.

    They play by no rules at all. I’m not asking to throw down our morals because the other side doesn’t have any. However, it might be prudent to forgive Petraeus. Broadwell is not exactly unattractive and I guarantee you, she was the aggressor sexually. We make mistakes some small and some big. I think it is reasonable to judge Petraeus with mercy. What was Hillary’s excuse? She destroyed the lives of the women Bill raped. She & Bill were defrauding people to the tune of billions as they sold the national interest out one chunk at a time. Her security irresponsibility is fabulously large in comparison to the minor breach that Petraeus did with Broadwell.

    It’s night and day BDB. You are the judge. I ask only a reasonable sentence for my client that has pleaded guilty as charged. In the other case being discussed the defendant has perjured herself repeatedly and continues to obstruct justice.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #13
  14. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    Here’s the thing — this is just a press release, a trial balloon to see if he can come in from the cold yet.  None of this is new.  He uses weasel words to contemporize what has always been true:

    First, it is increasingly apparent [insert what was true in 1998]. Second, it is also apparent that the attacks and other activities of such extremists will not be confined to the areas or regions in which they are located. [Unlike 1993 and 2001, and every year since][…] Third, it is also increasingly clear that, in responding to these challenges, U.S. leadership is imperative. […] Churchill was right [!]  Fourth, it is becoming clear that [insert entire book he wrote and we fought]. It is increasingly apparent that [more of book]. […] Fifth, and finally, it is clear that the U.S.-led effort will have to be sustained for what may be extended periods of time — and that reductions in our level of effort should be guided by conditions on the ground rather than fixed timetables.

    Nothing has changed.  This is an overprime shyster selling evergreen policy articles. Find me a year that this wasn’t true.  There’s no content here.  So now he’s popped out of some hole and seen his master’s shadow, for four more years of loss and surrender.

    I think he’s dirty on Benghazi and has to speak well of evil.  Or he would be UNLOADING right now.  Thanks, but no thanks, General.

    • #14
  15. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    James Gawron:

    Think what you want.  Your prose won’t change my mind, nor a bunch of other folks who see him as next to Jane Fonda, despite, if not in light of previous magnificent service rendered.  Like with Clinton, it’s not the affair.  Don’t get stuck on that.  But my prose is not going to convince you either.  Fair enough.

    • #15
  16. James Gawron Inactive
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    Ball Diamond Ball:

    James Gawron:

    Think what you want. Your prose won’t change my mind, nor a bunch of other folks who see him as next to Jane Fonda, despite, if not in light of previous magnificent service rendered. Like with Clinton, it’s not the affair. Don’t get stuck on that. But my prose is not going to convince you either. Fair enough.

    BDB,

    Fair enough. You know to move the earth you need a board long enough and a place to stand. A good general always has the board long enough. Unfortunately, politics is the place where he has to stand.

    I don’t idealize Petraeus at all. I just think we need to consider the fact that he has been used badly. The Broadwell affair stinks of politics. I’m sure they were worried about him as a potential Republican candidate you know like Ike. (Clinton is caught in the White House shtupping an intern no problem. Just amazing.) They made sure to gun for Petraeus. That’s the way they think. Not principle just the crudest kind of character assassination. They have two candidates that stink on ice yet they aren’t behind in the polls. Just amazing.

    Fair enough BDB.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #16
  17. donald todd Inactive
    donald todd
    @donaldtodd

    Petraeus reads like a general who wants to fight the war somewhere other than the continental US and his missive gives that indication.  What intel he may still have access to and what it implies for the continental US I have no idea.  He reads like a general who expects to use competent troops to achieve an objective.

    If Petraeus still has access to such intelligence, he likely could not say anything without putting one of his contacts in trouble.  Equally he might risk giving away current operations in the effort to confront jihadists in the US and whatever else he is, he is still a patriotic American.

    • #17
  18. Tenacious D Inactive
    Tenacious D
    @TenaciousD

    I Walton:while we’re on the topic…

    Kingdom Come or Kingdom Gone? Saudi Arabia and the Future of the Middle East,

    CIGI, where that talk was given, is an interesting place. It was started by one of the co-founders of Blackberry (the other co-founder has a theoretical physics institute across the street). It’s kind of a hybrid between a think-tank and educational institution.

    • #18
  19. Manny Member
    Manny
    @Manny

    He understands it.  I actually have faith in his abilities.  Hopefully he will be considered for Secretary of Defense in the next administration.

    • #19
  20. Pelayo Inactive
    Pelayo
    @Pelayo

    Petraeus does not address the root cause.  We need to go after the ideologues who are preaching Islamic Jihad to the masses.  Until we target the religious leaders and take them off the board, new disciples will replace the ones we kill.  I know it sounds horrible to say we are targeting religious leaders, but they are the head of the snake so to speak.

    • #20
  21. Tuck Inactive
    Tuck
    @Tuck

    Ball Diamond Ball:These are the regrets of a disgraced has-been dressed up to sell copy somewhere….

    How dare he show his face.

    Yes, we should always vilify the current administration’s political victims.  We were always at war with EastAsia!

    • #21
  22. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    Tuck:

    Ball Diamond Ball:These are the regrets of a disgraced has-been dressed up to sell copy somewhere….

    How dare he show his face.

    Yes, we should always vilify the current administration’s political victims. We were always at war with EastAsia!

    Victim: Chris Stevens

    Not a Victim: David Petraeus

    • #22

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