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When President Trump was elected to the Oval Office with a net worth in the billions, it was clear that this presidency would be unique. Not only did he himself come a successful business background, but, as Visual Capitalist's Jeff Desjardins notes, he wanted the people surrounding him to have similar backgrounds as well. In 2016, the newly elected Trump was quoted as saying he wanted to have people in his cabinet that “made a fortune”, also stating that he was putting together “one of the great cabinets that has ever been assembled in the history of our nation.” COMPARING FIRST-TERM CABINETS Today’s chart, which also appears on the back cover of Politico Magazine (web version found here), shows the wealth of initial cabinets put together by the last three presidents: Trump, Obama, and Bush. Courtesy of: Visual Capitalist Here’s how they stack up, in terms of aggregate wealth: Trump’s cabinet is worth a cool $2.33 billion – about 35x the size of Barack Obama’s initial cabinet, and 7x the size of George W. Bush’s first. Interestingly, the top four people (in terms of wealth) are all in Trump’s: Betsy DeVos ($1.1 billion) sits atop as the wealthiest person in all three initial cabinets – and Wilbur Ross ($506.5 million), Rex Tillerson ($294.5 million), and Steve Mnuchin ($252.0 million) round out the other top spots. Meanwhile, Donald Rumsfeld ($151.9 million) was the richest person outside of Trump’s cabinet. OBAMA’S SECOND TERM While the comparisons in the chart are all for initial cabinets, it is worth noting that Obama’s second cabinet was not so modest. He elected to bring in Penny Pritzker as the U.S. Secretary of Commerce, who was worth $2.2 billion – almost the combined net worth of Trump’s cabinet today!
Former CIA analyst and founder of 'Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity' Ray McGovern, in this tongue-in-cheek article, outlines steps he would take on Day One as CIA Director to get to the bottom of Russiagate. Via ConsortiumNews.com Now that I have been nominated again – this time by author Paul Craig Roberts – to be CIA director, I am preparing to hit the ground running. Ray McGovern Last time my name was offered in nomination for the position – by The Nation publisher Katrina vanden Heuvel – I did not hold my breath waiting for a call from the White House. Her nomination came in the afterglow of my fortuitous, four-minute debate with then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, when I confronted him on his lies about the attack on Iraq, on May 4, 2006 on national TV. Since it was abundantly clear that Rumsfeld and I would not get along, I felt confident I had royally disqualified myself. This time around, on the off-chance I do get the nod, I have taken the time to prepare the agenda for my first few days as CIA director. Here’s how Day One looks so far: Get former National Security Agency Technical Director William Binney back to CIA to join me and the “handpicked” CIA analysts who, with other “handpicked” analysts (as described by former National Intelligence Director James Clapper on May 8, 2017) from the FBI and NSA, prepared the so-called Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA) of Jan. 6, 2017. That evidence-impoverished assessment argued the case that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his minions “to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton.” When my predecessor, CIA Director Mike Pompeo invited Binney to his office on Oct. 24, 2017 to discuss cyber-attacks, he told Pompeo that he had been fed a pack of lies on “Russian hacking” and that he could prove it. Why Pompeo left that hanging is puzzling, but I believe this is the kind of low-hanging fruit we should pick pronto. The low-calorie Jan. 6 ICA was clumsily cobbled together: “We assess with high confidence that Russian military intelligence … used the Guccifer 2.0 persona and DCLeaks.com to release US victim data obtained in cyber operations publicly and in exclusives to media outlets and relayed material to WikiLeaks.” Binney and other highly experienced NSA alumni, as well as other members of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), drawing on their intimate familiarity with how the technical systems and hacking work, have been saying for a year and a half that this CIA/FBI/NSA conclusion is a red herring, so to speak. Last summer, the results of forensic investigation enabled VIPS to apply the principles of physics and the known capacity of the internet to confirm that conclusion. Oddly, the FBI chose not to do forensics on the so-called “Russian hack” of the Democratic National Committee computers and, by all appearances, neither did the drafters of the ICA. Again, Binney says that the main conclusions he and his VIPS colleagues reached are based largely on principles of physics – simple ones like fluid dynamics. I want to hear what that’s all about, how that applies to the “Russian hack,” and hear what my own CIA analysts have to say about that. I will have Binney’s clearances updated to remove any unnecessary barriers to a no-holds-barred discussion at a highly classified level. After which I shall have a transcript prepared, sanitized to protect sources and methods, and promptly released to the media. Like Sisyphus Up the Media Mountain At that point things are bound to get very interesting. Far too few people realize that they get a very warped view on such issues from the New York Times. And, no doubt, it would take some time, for the Times and other outlets to get used to some candor from the CIA, instead of the far more common tendentious leaks. In any event, we will try to speak truth to the media – as well as to power. I happen to share the view of the handful of my predecessor directors who believed we have an important secondary obligation to do what we possibly can to inform/educate the public as well as the rest of the government – especially on such volatile and contentious issues like “Russian hacking.” What troubles me greatly is that the NYT and other mainstream print and TV media seem to be bloated with the thin gruel-cum-Kool-Aid they have been slurping at our CIA trough for a year and a half; and then treating the meager fare consumed as some sort of holy sacrament. That goes in spades for media handling of the celebrated ICA of Jan. 6, 2017 cobbled together by those “handpicked” analysts from CIA, FBI, and NSA. It is, in all candor, an embarrassment to the profession of intelligence analysis and yet, for political reasons, it has attained the status of Holy Writ. The Paper of (Dubious) Record I recall the banner headline spanning the top of the entire front page of the NYT on Jan. 7, 2017: “Putin Led Scheme to Aid Trump, Report Says;” and the electronic version headed “Putin Led a Complex Cyberattack Scheme to Aid Trump, Report Finds.” I said to myself sarcastically, “Well there you go! That’s exactly what Mrs. Clinton – not to mention the NY Times, the Washington Post and The Establishment – have been saying for many months.” Buried in that same edition of the Times was a short paragraph by Scott Shane: “What is missing from the public report is what many Americans most eagerly anticipated: hard evidence to back up the agencies’ claims that the Russian government engineered the election attack. That is a significant omission.” Omission? No hard evidence? No problem. The publication of the Jan. 6, 2017 assessment got the ball rolling. And Democrats like Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, were kicking the ball hard down the streets of Washington. On Jan. 25, 2017, I had a chance to confront Schiff personally about the lack of evidence — something that even Obama had acknowledged just before slipping out the door. I think our two-minute conversation speaks volumes. Now I absolutely look forward to dealing with Adam Schiff from my new position as CIA director. I will ask him to show me the evidence of “Russian hacking” that he said he could not show me on Jan. 25, 2017 – on the chance his evidence includes more than reports from the New York Times. Sources Intelligence analysts put great weight, of course, on sources. The authors of the lede, banner-headlined NYT article of Jan. 7, 2017 were Michael D. Shear and David E. Sanger; Sanger has had a particularly checkered career, while always landing on his feet. Despite his record of parroting CIA handouts (or perhaps partly because of it), Sanger is now the NYT’s chief Washington correspondent. Those whose memories go back more than 15 years may recall his promoting weapons of mass destruction in Iraq as flat fact. In a July 29, 2002 article co-written with Them Shanker, for example, Iraq’s (non-existent) “weapons of mass destruction” appear no fewer than seven times as flat fact. More instructive still, in May 2005, when first-hand documentary evidence from the now-famous “Downing Street Memorandum” showed that President George W. Bush had decided by early summer 2002 to attack Iraq, the NYT ignored it for six weeks until David Sanger rose to the occasion with a tortured report claiming just the opposite. The title given his article of June 13 2005 was “Prewar British Memo Says War Decision Wasn’t Made.” Against this peculiar reporting record, I was not inclined to take at face value the Jan. 7, 2017 report he co-authored with Michael D. Shear – “Putin Led a Complex Cyberattack Scheme to Aid Trump, Report Finds.” Nor am I inclined to take seriously former National Intelligence Director James Clapper’s stated views on the proclivity of Russians to be, well, just really bad people — like it’s in their genes. I plan to avail myself of the opportunity to discover whether intelligence analysts who labored under his “aegis” were infected by his quaint view of the Russians. I shall ask any of the “handpicked” analysts who specialize in analysis of Russia (and, hopefully, there are at least a few): Do you share Clapper’s view, as he explained it to NBC’s Meet the Press on May 30, 2017, that Russians are “typically, almost genetically driven to co-opt, penetrate, gain favor, whatever”? I truly do not know what to expect by way of reply. End of Day One In sum, my priority for Day One is to hear both sides of the story regarding “Russian hacking” with all cards on the table. All cards. That means no questions are out of order, including what, if any, role the “Steele dossier” may have played in the preparation of the Jan. 6, 2017 assessment. I may decide to seek some independent, disinterested technical input, as well. But it should not take me very long to figure out which of the two interpretations of alleged “Russian hacking” is more straight-up fact-based and unbiased. That done, in the following days I shall brief both the Chair, Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) and ranking member Schiff of the House Intelligence Committee, as well as the Chair and ranking member of its counterpart in the Senate. I will then personally brief the NYT’s David Sanger and follow closely what he and his masters decide to do with the facts I present. On the chance that the Times and other media might decide to play it straight, and that the “straight” diverges from the prevailing, Clapperesque narrative of Russian perfidy, the various mainstream outlets will face a formidable problem of their own making. Mark Twain put it this way: “It is easier to fool people than it is to convince them they have been fooled.” And that will probably be enough for Day One.
Authored Major Danny Sjursen via BreakingDefense.com, Last week, after Israel reportedly shot down an Iranian drone and Prime Minister Netanyahu proudly displayed a hunk of twisted metal as a war trophy, Americans were treated to fresh calls for regime change from some prominent neoconservatives. Granted, Iran is no friend to the U.S. and might even qualify as a modest adversary. Its nuclear ambitions should continue to be thwarted, as most reports indicate they are. Still, what Washington desperately needs right now is some perspective and an honest conversation about the realities of the Middle East. Not alarmism. The last thing the overstretched U.S. military needs is another hot war. It’s already pretty busy. President Obama bombed seven countries in 2016, and President Trump has continued apace. There’s reason to worry. Trump, who ran on an eminently reasonable platform of disengagement from “dumb” wars in the region, quickly pivoted to a hawkish stance on the Islamic Republic. In December, when protestors hit the streets of Tehran based on mostly economic motives, Trump immediately rallied in support and not-so-subtlety tweeted “Oppressive regimes cannot endure forever.” Except, that is, for Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and other illiberal authoritarian regimes we support. Perhaps Trump simply meant the people of Iran would topple the ayatollahs, but if the recently released National Defense Strategy is any indicator — it lists Iran as one of four core threats —U.S.-imposed regime change is certainly on the table. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis It shouldn’t be. At present, Iran does notpresent a clear and present vital threat to American national security. Statements from Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, however, indicate he disagrees. Mattis’ Blind Spot The secretary is the boss, my boss, but his focus on the Iranian regime qualifies as his blind spot, a veritable Iran obsession. Since at least 2011, Mattis has overstated the Iranian threat and hinted at toppling the regime in Tehran. And he’s only doubling down. This past May, Mattis told “Face the Nation,” that “what we find is, wherever there are challenges, wherever there is chaos, wherever there is violence, whether it be in Lebanon, in Syria, in Iraq, in Yemen, the attempts to unsettle Bahrain. We always find Iran and the IRGC [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps] at it.” He also once told then-President Obama that the top three threats in the Middle East were “Iran, Iran, Iran.” That sounds excessive. Iran spends about as much on defense annually as the U.S. does on a single aircraft carrier. A simple comparison is instructive: Iran’s GDP was about $427 billion, and it spent some $11.5 billion on defense in 2016. U.S. allies, like Saudi Arabia (GDP: $678 billion; defense spending: $66.7 billion) and Israel (GDP: $348 billion; defense spending: $19.6 billion) can more than hold their own. And remember, standing behind them is the real behemoth, the U.S., which plans to spend $716 billion on defense in 2019—that’s $300 billion more than Iran’s entire GDP. The numbers speak for themselves. Conclusion: some perspective is in order. While Iran definitely is engaged in the Mid-East, its own neighborhood, it’s rarely behind much of anything and doesn’t have nearly the power or influence to pull all the various regional strings. Yemeni and Bahraini unrest were homegrown. Conflict in Syria and Lebanon preceded Iranian deployments there. And Iraq, well, the U.S. handed Baghdad to Iran on a silver platter after that ill-fated invasion. Iran use regional proxies, rather than its own military, precisely because it is weak and fearful. Furthermore, though he’s recently backed off some of his most bellicose threats, Mattis regularly draws distinctions between the supposedly disenfranchised people of Iran and an ostensibly separate revolutionary regime. There’s something to this, but in Mattis’ statements, it sounds like he’s calling for the fall of the regime. “It’s not the Iranian people,” Mattis added. “We are convinced it’s a regime that is conducting itself in order to stay in power in Tehran as a revolutionary regime, not as a proper nation-state. They are not looking out for the best interests of their own people.” Maybe that’s true enough, but surely dozens of governments fail to represent their populace the world over. That doesn’t necessitate regime change, does it? Such rhetoric raises tensions and threatens to stoke nationalist tendencies in Iran which work to the advantage of relative hardliners. The View from Tehran After all, try and view the last decade of U.S. military actions from Tehran. Washington toppled and seemingly permanently occupied Iran’s neighbors on its western (Iraq) and eastern (Afghanistan) flanks, encircled the country with its military bases, and intervened in just about every country in its neighborhood. Iranian C-14 missile boat. I remember way back in August 2002, and even then the rhetoric was chilling: “Everyone wants to go to Baghdad. Real men want to go to Tehran,” a British official close to the President Bush team told Newsweek in the lead up to the Iraq War. Who could rationally blame Iran’s leaders for fearing they were next? And who would be surprised to see them turn to Shia militias to trap the U.S. military in a Baghdad quagmire? That’s basic survival instincts. While not excusing their tactics, it’s undeniable that their approach enhanced their standing vis-à-vis Iraq and the region—an unintended consequence of ousting Saddam Hussein. Iranians also have a long memory. The CIA helped overthrow a democratically elected government in Tehran in 1953. Then, throughout the 1980s, the U.S. backed Saddam Hussein in Iraq’s brutal invasion of Iran. Heck, President Reagan even sent one Donald Rumsfeld (remember him?) to make nice with Saddam. None of this sordid history obviates Iran from acting responsibly in the region—but this must serve as a reality check for Washington’s triumphalism and an unfathomable commitment to strategic overreach. Walking the proverbial mile in an adversary’s shoes isn’t “soft,” it’s smart. Only by understanding the motives of other countries can we correctly predict and counter actions that undermine America’s interests. Military Action: A Bad Idea Iran’s military is far from the imposing behemoth threat of hawkish imagination. In fact, Saudi Arabia is much better armed and could likely handle Iran by itself—remember, it spends more than five times much on its military than Iran. Nonetheless, Iran is spatially large and mountainous with an enormous, fiercely nationalist population. Make no mistake, U.S. military occupation of the Islamic Republic would make the Iraq War, for once, actually look like the “cakewalk” it was billed to be. America’s armed forces are currently spread thin in a dozen simultaneous operations and deployed in nearly 70 percent of the world’s countries. The Army alone is rotating brigades to deter Russia in Eastern Europe; manning the DMZ in South Korea; training and advising across Africa; conducting raids in Somalia, Yemen, and Niger; and actively fighting in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. So where are the troops available to topple Tehran? They don’t exist. The U.S. military is already running at full throttle, and the American people won’t be flocking to recruiters to stave off an overhyped, distant Iranian threat. The polling data is clear: Americans don’t want another war. Ubiquitous, over-the-top proclamations aside, Iran’s various regional interventions have been more cost than benefit for Tehran and largely defensive in nature—look no further than recent protests throughout Iran for proof. Iran isn’t seeking a New Persia any more, or less, than our purported Turkish (NATO) ally’s dream of a revamped Ottoman Empire. That’s rhetoric, not reality. And these days, with Turkish tanks just miles from U.S. forces in Syria and openly threatening Washington, guess who the greater threat is? Indeed, it might be time for Washington to swallow its pride and admit to some common interests with Iran in the region—the defeat of ISIS, suppression on Sunni Islamists, and a stable, non-threatening Afghanistan—rather than harping on the exaggerated negatives. Look, I don’t take any of this lightly. Iranian-supplied bombs killed two of my soldiers on January 25, 2007. Still, it’s important to remember, no Iranians have attacked the homeland since 9/11 (not something that can be said of our many autocratic “allies” in the region). The proper role of the U.S. military is to prevent enemies killing Americans, not to keep rival Mid-East factions from killing each other. Forget a new war. Iran isn’t worth it. Not now, probably not ever. The U.S. military is busy, thank you very much. And any trouble it causes can easily be countered by our partners and allies in the region. Washington should ditch the alarmism and get real in the complex Middle East.
Разгром ИГИЛ не означает полную расправу над джихадистами. Эти наёмники - фанатичные боевики, а зачастую и просто психопаты, прикрывающиеся исламской религией, продолжают пользоваться поддержкой ряда государств и транснациональных компаний. В предлагаемой статье Тьерри Мейсан анализирует возможность дальнейшего использования джихадистов и выражает беспокойство по поводу снисходительного отношения Запада к идеологии Братьев-мусульман. После ликвидации ИГИЛ, кроме восстановления […]
Douglas Macgregor Security, After years of service inside the U.S. military’s cutthroat bureaucracy, senior officers can recite the lessons of the past, but very few can grasp their future implications. Next week the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Airland will hold a hearing on Army modernization. Just twelve months ago, in a similar hearing, the U.S. Army was, according to its own senior leaders, in dismal shape. The question for the senators, who oversee Army readiness to deploy and fight, is whether anything has really changed since February 2017. The recent past explains why. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld famously said, “You go to war with the army you have.” Like a stopped clock that’s right twice a day, Rumsfeld was correct. Wars are seldom decided in a single, dramatic battle or by the appearance of a new, alleged “leap ahead” technology. Wars are decided in the decades before they begin; through years of innovative field experimentation and rapid prototyping based on rigorous analysis and historical study. Rumsfeld was lucky. Instead of fighting in “the Super Bowl,” the U.S. Army confronted a “pick up team” consisting of Afghan and Arab insurgents. Without armies, air forces, air defenses or modern intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) assets, the insurgents were too weak to seriously threaten America’s Cold War legacy Army. Joint operational maneuvers on the scale of the 1944 breakout from Normandy or offensives to penetrate sophisticated air defenses like those the Germans built—operations that cost the U.S. and British Air Forces eighteen thousand bombers—were not required. Unfortunately, military “success” against pickup teams sets up armies for failure in the Super Bowl. In 1940, Gen. Maxime Weygand, the supreme commander of French Forces, told a room of shocked politicians and generals, “We have gone to war with a 1918 Army against a German Army of 1939. It is sheer madness.” Weygand should not have been surprised. Read full article
Дональд Трамп представил Стратегию национальной безопасности, наметившую путь укрепления экономического могущества США и повышения социального благополучия населения. Новая стратегия полностью соответствует требованиям современной международной обстановки и не имеет ничего общего с воззрениями его предшественников. Остаётся, чтобы весь состав администрации следовал по намеченному пути. При президентах Джордже Буше мл. и Бараке Обаме Стратегия национальной безопасности основывалась […]
Authored by Major Danny Sjursen via TomDispatch.com, Vietnam: it’s always there. Looming in the past, informing American futures. A 50-year-old war, once labeled the longest in our history, is still alive and well and still being refought by one group of Americans: the military high command. And almost half a century later, they’re still losing it and blaming others for doing so. Of course, the U.S. military and Washington policymakers lost the war in Vietnam in the previous century and perhaps it’s well that they did. The United States really had no business intervening in that anti-colonial civil war in the first place, supporting a South Vietnamese government of questionable legitimacy, and stifling promised nationwide elections on both sides of that country’s artificial border. In doing so, Washington presented an easy villain for a North Vietnamese-backed National Liberation Front (NLF) insurgency, a group known to Americans in those years as the Vietcong. More than two decades of involvement and, at the war’s peak, half a million American troops never altered the basic weakness of the U.S.-backed regime in Saigon. Despite millions of Asian deaths and 58,000 American ones, South Vietnam’s military could not, in the end, hold the line without American support and finally collapsed under the weight of a conventional North Vietnamese invasion in April 1975. There’s just one thing. Though a majority of historians (known in academia as the “orthodox” school) subscribe to the basic contours of the above narrative, the vast majority of senior American military officers do not. Instead, they’re still refighting the Vietnam War to a far cheerier outcome through the books they read, the scholarship they publish, and (most disturbingly) the policies they continue to pursue in the Greater Middle East. The Big Re-Write In 1986, future general, Iraq-Afghan War commander, and CIA director David Petraeus penned an article for the military journal Parameters that summarized his Princeton doctoral dissertation on the Vietnam War. It was a piece commensurate with then-Major Petraeus’s impressive intellect, except for its disastrous conclusions on the lessons of that war. Though he did observe that Vietnam had “cost the military dearly” and that “the frustrations of Vietnam are deeply etched in the minds of those who lead the services,” his real fear was that the war had left the military unprepared to wage what were then called “low-intensity conflicts” and are now known as counterinsurgencies. His takeaway: what the country needed wasn’t less Vietnams but better-fought ones. The next time, he concluded fatefully, the military should do a far better job of implementing counterinsurgency forces, equipment, tactics, and doctrine to win such wars. Two decades later, when the next Vietnam-like quagmire did indeed present itself in Iraq, he and a whole generation of COINdinistas (like-minded officers devoted to his favored counterinsurgency approach to modern warfare) embraced those very conclusions to win the war on terror. The names of some of them -- H.R. McMaster and James Mattis, for instance -- should ring a bell or two these days. In Iraq and later in Afghanistan, Petraeus and his acolytes would get their chance to translate theory into practice. Americans -- and much of the rest of the planet -- still live with the results. Like Petraeus, an entire generation of senior military leaders, commissioned in the years after the Vietnam War and now atop the defense behemoth, remain fixated on that ancient conflict. After all these decades, such “thinking” generals and “soldier-scholars” continue to draw all the wrong lessons from what, thanks in part to them, has now become America’s second longest war. Rival Schools Historian Gary Hess identifies two main schools of revisionist thinking. There are the “Clausewitzians” (named after the nineteenth century Prussian military theorist) who insist that Washington never sufficiently attacked the enemy's true center of gravity in North Vietnam. Beneath the academic language, they essentially agree on one key thing: the U.S. military should have bombed the North into a parking lot. The second school, including Petraeus, Hess labeled the “hearts-and-minders.” As COINdinistas, they felt the war effort never focused clearly enough on isolating the Vietcong, protecting local villages in the South, building schools, and handing out candy -- everything, in short, that might have won (in the phrase of that era) Vietnamese hearts and minds. Both schools, however, agreed on something basic: that the U.S. military should have won in Vietnam. The danger presented by either school is clear enough in the twenty-first century. Senior commanders, some now serving in key national security positions, fixated on Vietnam, have translated that conflict’s supposed lessons into what now passes for military strategy in Washington. The result has been an ever-expanding war on terror campaign waged ceaselessly from South Asia to West Africa, which has essentially turned out to be perpetual war based on the can-do belief that counterinsurgency and advise-and-assist missions should have worked in Vietnam and can work now. The Go-Big Option The leading voice of the Clausewitzian school was U.S. Army Colonel and Korean War/Vietnam War vet Harry Summers, whose 1982 book, On Strategy: A Critical Analysis of the Vietnam War, became an instant classic within the military. It’s easy enough to understand why. Summers argued that civilian policymakers -- not the military rank-and-file -- had lost the war by focusing hopelessly on the insurgency in South Vietnam rather than on the North Vietnamese capital, Hanoi. More troops, more aggressiveness, even full-scale invasions of communist safe havens in Laos, Cambodia, and North Vietnam, would have led to victory. Summers had a deep emotional investment in his topic. Later, he would argue that the source of post-war pessimistic analyses of the conflict lay in “draft dodgers and war evaders still [struggling] with their consciences.” In his own work, Summers marginalized all Vietnamese actors (as would so many later military historians), failed to adequately deal with the potential consequences, nuclear or otherwise, of the sorts of escalation he advocated, and didn’t even bother to ask whether Vietnam was a core national security interest of the United States. Perhaps he would have done well to reconsider a famous post-war encounter he had with a North Vietnamese officer, a Colonel Tu, whom he assured that “you know you never beat us on the battlefield.” “That may be so,” replied his former enemy, “but it is also irrelevant.” Whatever its limitations, his work remains influential in military circles to this day. (I was assigned the book as a West Point cadet!) A more sophisticated Clausewitzian analysis came from current National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster in a highly acclaimed 1997 book, Dereliction of Duty. He argued that the Joint Chiefs of Staff were derelict in failing to give President Lyndon Johnson an honest appraisal of what it would take to win, which meant that “the nation went to war without the benefit of effective military advice.” He concluded that the war was lost not in the field or by the media or even on antiwar college campuses, but in Washington, D.C., through a failure of nerve by the Pentagon’s generals, which led civilian officials to opt for a deficient strategy. McMaster is a genuine scholar and a gifted writer, but he still suggested that the Joint Chiefs should have advocated for a more aggressive offensive strategy -- a full ground invasion of the North or unrelenting carpet-bombing of that country. In this sense, he was just another “go-big” Clausewitzian who, as historian Ronald Spector pointed out recently, ignored Vietnamese views and failed to acknowledge -- an observation of historian Edward Miller -- that “the Vietnam War was a Vietnamese war.” COIN: A Small (Forever) War Another Vietnam veteran, retired Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Krepinevich, fired the opening salvo for the hearts-and-minders. In The Army and Vietnam, published in 1986, he argued that the NLF, not the North Vietnamese Army, was the enemy’s chief center of gravity and that the American military’s failure to emphasize counterinsurgency principles over conventional concepts of war sealed its fate. While such arguments were, in reality, no more impressive than those of the Clausewitzians, they have remained popular with military audiences, as historian Dale Andrade points out, because they offer a “simple explanation for the defeat in Vietnam.” Krepinevich would write an influential 2005 Foreign Affairs piece, “How to Win in Iraq,” in which he applied his Vietnam conclusions to a new strategy of prolonged counterinsurgency in the Middle East, quickly winning over the New York Times’s resident conservative columnist, David Brooks, and generating “discussion in the Pentagon, CIA, American Embassy in Baghdad, and the office of the vice president.” In 1999, retired army officer and Vietnam veteran Lewis Sorley penned the definitive hearts-and-minds tract, A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America’s Last Years in Vietnam. Sorley boldly asserted that, by the spring of 1970, “the fighting wasn’t over, but the war was won.” According to his comforting tale, the real explanation for failure lay with the “big-war” strategy of U.S. commander General William Westmoreland. The counterinsurgency strategy of his successor, General Creighton Abrams -- Sorley’s knight in shining armor -- was (or at least should have been) a war winner. Critics noted that Sorley overemphasized the marginal differences between the two generals’ strategies and produced a remarkably counterfactual work. It didn’t matter, however. By 2005, just as the situation in Iraq, a country then locked in a sectarian civil war amid an American occupation, went from bad to worse, Sorley’s book found its way into the hands of the head of U.S. Central Command, General John Abizaid, and State Department counselor Philip Zelikow. By then, according to the Washington Post’s David Ignatius, it could also “be found on the bookshelves of senior military officers in Baghdad.” Another influential hearts-and-minds devotee was Lieutenant Colonel John Nagl. (He even made it onto The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.) His Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam followed Krepinevich in claiming that “if [Creighton] Abrams had gotten the call to lead the American effort at the start of the war, America might very well have won it.” In 2006, the Wall Street Journal reported that Army Chief of Staff General Peter Schoomaker “so liked [Nagl’s] book that he made it required reading for all four-star generals,” while the Iraq War commander of that moment, General George Casey, gave Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld a copy during a visit to Baghdad. David Petraeus and current Secretary of Defense James Mattis, co-authors in 2006 of FM 3-24, the first (New York Times-reviewed) military field manual for counterinsurgency since Vietnam, must also be considered among the pantheon of hearts-and-minders. Nagl wrote a foreword for their manual, while Krepinevich provided a glowing back-cover endorsement. Such revisionist interpretations would prove tragic in Iraq and Afghanistan, once they had filtered down to the entire officer corps. Reading All the Wrong Books In 2009, when former West Point history professor Colonel Gregory Daddis was deployed to Iraq as the command historian for the Multinational Corps -- the military’s primary tactical headquarters -- he noted that corps commander Lieutenant General Charles Jacoby had assigned a professional reading list to his principal subordinates. To his disappointment, Daddis also discovered that the only Vietnam War book included was Sorley’s A Better War. This should have surprised no one, since his argument -- that American soldiers in Vietnam were denied an impending victory by civilian policymakers, a liberal media, and antiwar protestors -- was still resonant among the officer corps in year six of the Iraq quagmire. It wasn’t the military’s fault! Officers have long distributed professional reading lists for subordinates, intellectual guideposts to the complex challenges ahead. Indeed, there’s much to be admired in the concept, but also potential dangers in such lists as they inevitably influence the thinking of an entire generation of future leaders. In the case of Vietnam, the perils are obvious. The generals have been assigning and reading problematic books for years, works that were essentially meant to reinforce professional pride in the midst of a series of unsuccessful and unending wars. Just after 9/11, for instance, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Richard Myers -- who spoke at my West Point graduation -- included Summers’s On Strategy on his list. A few years later, then-Army Chief of Staff General Peter Schoomaker added McMaster’s Dereliction of Duty. The trend continues today. Marine Corps Commandant Robert Neller has kept McMaster and added Diplomacy by Henry Kissinger (he of the illegal bombing of both Laos and Cambodia and war criminal fame). Current Army Chief of Staff General Mark Milley kept Kissinger and added good old Lewis Sorley. To top it all off, Secretary of Defense Mattis has included yet another Kissinger book and, in a different list, Krepinevich’s The Army and Vietnam. Just as important as which books made the lists is what’s missing from them: none of these senior commanders include newer scholarship, novels, or journalistic accounts which might raise thorny, uncomfortable questions about whether the Vietnam War was winnable, necessary, or advisable, or incorporate local voices that might highlight the limits of American influence and power. Serving in the Shadow of Vietnam Most of the generals leading the war on terror just missed service in the Vietnam War. They graduated from various colleges or West Point in the years immediately following the withdrawal of most U.S. ground troops or thereafter: Petraeus in 1974, future Afghan War commander Stanley McChrystal in 1976, and present National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster in 1984. Secretary of Defense Mattis finished ROTC and graduated from Central Washington University in 1971, while Trump’s Chief of Staff John Kelly enlisted at the tail end of the Vietnam War, receiving his commission in 1976. In other words, the generation of officers now overseeing the still-spreading war on terror entered military service at the end of or after the tragic war in Southeast Asia. That meant they narrowly escaped combat duty in the bloodiest American conflict since World War II and so the professional credibility that went with it. They were mentored and taught by academy tactical officers, ROTC instructors, and commanders who had cut their teeth on that conflict. Vietnam literally dominated the discourse of their era -- and it’s never ended. Petraeus, Mattis, McMaster, and the others entered service when military prestige had reached a nadir or was just rebounding. And those reading lists taught the young officers where to lay the blame for that -- on civilians in Washington (or in the nation’s streets) or on a military high command too weak to assert its authority effectively. They would serve in Vietnam’s shadow, the shadow of defeat, and the conclusions they would draw from it would only lead to twenty-first-century disasters. From Vietnam to the War on Terror to Generational War All of this misremembering, all of those Vietnam “lessons” inform the U.S. military’s ongoing “surges” and “advise-and-assist” approaches to its wars in the Greater Middle East and Africa. Representatives of both Vietnam revisionist schools now guide the development of the Trump administration’s version of global strategy. President Trump’s in-house Clausewitzians clamor for -- and receive -- ever more delegated authority to do their damnedest and what retired General (and Vietnam vet) Edward Meyer called for back in 1983: “a freer hand in waging war than they had in Vietnam.” In other words, more bombs, more troops, and carte blanche to escalate such conflicts to their hearts’ content. Meanwhile, President Trump’s hearts-and-minds faction consists of officers who have spent three administrations expanding COIN-influenced missions to approximately 70% of the world’s nations. Furthermore, they’ve recently fought for and been granted a new “mini-surge” in Afghanistan intended to -- in disturbingly Vietnam-esque language -- “break the deadlock,” “reverse the decline,” and “end the stalemate” there. Never mind that neither 100,000 U.S. troops (when I was there in 2011) nor 16 full years of combat could, in the term of the trade, “stabilize” Afghanistan. The can-do, revisionist believers atop the national security state have convinced Trump that -- despite his original instincts -- 4,000 or 5,000 (or 6,000 or 7,000) more troops (and yet more drones, planes, and other equipment) will do the trick. This represents tragedy bordering on farce. The hearts and minders and Clausewitzians atop the military establishment since 9/11 are never likely to stop citing their versions of the Vietnam War as the key to victory today; that is, they will never stop focusing on a war that was always unwinnable and never worth fighting. None of today’s acclaimed military personalities seems willing to consider that Washington couldn’t have won in Vietnam because, as former Air Force Chief of Staff Merrill McPeak (who flew 269 combat missions over that country) noted in the recent Ken Burns documentary series, “we were fighting on the wrong side.” Today’s leaders don’t even pretend that the post-9/11 wars will ever end. In an interview last June, Petraeus -- still considered a sagacious guru of the Defense establishment -- disturbingly described the Afghan conflict as “generational.” Eerily enough, to cite a Vietnam-era precedent, General Creighton Abrams predicted something similar. speaking to the White House as the war in Southeast Asia was winding down. Even as President Richard Nixon slowly withdrew U.S. forces, handing over their duties to the South Vietnamese Army (ARVN) -- a process known then as “Vietnamization” -- the general warned that, despite ARVN improvements, continued U.S. support “would be required indefinitely to maintain an effective force.” Vietnam, too, had its “generational” side (until, of course, it didn’t). That war and its ill-fated lessons will undoubtedly continue to influence U.S. commanders until a new set of myths, explaining away a new set of failures in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, take over, possibly thanks to books by veterans of these conflicts about how Washington could have won the war on terror. It’s not that our generals don’t read. They do. They just doggedly continue to read the wrong books. In 1986, General Petraeus ended his influential Parameters article with a quote from historian George Herring: “Each historical situation is unique and the use of analogy is at best misleading, at worst, dangerous.” When it comes to Vietnam and a cohort of officers shaped in its shadow (and even now convinced it could have been won), "dangerous" hardly describes the results. They’ve helped bring us generational war and, for today’s young soldiers, ceaseless tragedy.
In newfound verse from 2001, the former defense secretary rages against time, space and indecipherable acronyms.
Thousands of memos written by former Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld have been made public. They cover a surprising range of subjects from just before the 9/11 attacks up until he retired in 2006, and give a rare insight into the strategic thinking at the time. RT LIVE http://rt.com/on-air Subscribe to RT! http://www.youtube.com/subscription_center?add_user=RussiaToday Like us on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/RTnews Follow us on Telegram https://t.me/rtintl Follow us on VK https://vk.com/rt_international Follow us on Twitter http://twitter.com/RT_com Follow us on Instagram http://instagram.com/rt Follow us on Google+ http://plus.google.com/+RT Listen to us on Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/rttv RT (Russia Today) is a global news network broadcasting from Moscow and Washington studios. RT is the first news channel to break the 1 billion YouTube views benchmark.
Американский интернет-ресурс TomDispatch, называющий себя немейнстримовским СМИ, опубликовал серию статей, которые приоткрыли завесу секретности над неприглядной и противозаконной деятельностью американского спецназа за пределами США. TomDispatch, в частности, раскрыл информацию о том, что в 2017 году силы специальных операций США действовали в 149 странах мира. То есть «внимания» американского спецназа удостоились три четверти всех государств на планете. […]
Будучи министром обороны, Дональд Рамсфельд обычно развлекал (и сбивал с толку) репортёров своими пространными разговорами об «известном известном», «известном неизвестном» и «неизвестном неизвестном». Эта последняя категория — «то, что мы не знаем, что мы не знаем», как выразился неподражаемый Рамми — именно то, что может и впрямь доставить вам неприятности.