Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
November 14, 2012

Symptoms Of Decline

Joshua Foust thankfully takes down the Petraeus cult and deserves to be quoted at length:
General Petraeus had a reputation his record simply could not support. It would be difficult to say Iraq was noticeably improved by his presence – certainly before 2006, but also during the Surge (which produced only a temporary cessation in the incredible violence). At CENTCOM (United States Central Command, where he was Director from 2008-2010), he oversaw the expansion of the war in Afghanistan, which has been a humiliating disaster. Additionally, his protégé, Stanley McChrystal, made a mockery of civil-military relations and was summarily fired. As ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) commander, Petraeus oversaw a dramatic rise in violence in Afghanistan, the adoption of “night raids” and a complete breakdown of relations between Kabul and Washington. And at the CIA, he has pushed the final transformation of an agency known more for its human element into a paramilitary engine of assassination – leaving a huge gaping hole where the country’s human intelligence capabilities used to be.

This is not a man who should be drummed out of office for having an affair. He should have been drummed out of office for not living up to his own legend. David Petraeus is a paper tiger: his personality cult looks impressive until you get close enough, and then the whole façade crumbles away.

That Petraeus could rise through the ranks as he did and could keep up the façade is only one sign of the dysfunction of the U.S. military and the associated political-industrial complex. Here is another such sign neatly expressed in one side sentence in a piece about the Asia pivot (itself a result of dysfunctional strategic thought):
Doubts persist among lawmakers and naval experts about the maneuverable and relatively small littoral combat ship, which is not designed to operate in a combat environment.

The biggest symptom of its dysfunction is the loss of two very expensive wars against minor enemies during the last decade.

A brown nosing, narcissistic but incapable officer corps, "combat ships" not designed for combat and a military not capable to win wars are sure signs of a decline in U.S. power. Unless the U.S. political elite goes through some upheaval and completely rethinks its approach to military force the U.S. will certainly lose more wars and accelerate its own decline.

The rest of the world will not be too unhappy with that. Unfortunately though even a dysfunctional military and a declining power can still create massive damage.

Posted by b on November 14, 2012 at 12:50 UTC | Permalink


In case Adm. Fallons take on Petraeus as has been forgotten.

Posted by: erichwwk | Nov 14 2012 15:37 utc | 1

Another sign of the current dysfunctional state of the military: Gen Dempsey, considered to be one of the 'exceptions', recommends no action against Gen Ward, ex-Africa Command head, for various actions involving gross misuse of funds and facilities. In a fitting rebuke, Panetta rejected the recommendation and demoted Ward before retiring him.

Posted by: FB Ali | Nov 14 2012 15:59 utc | 2

I posted about Ward in the last thread...that is all part of the same 'system'.

from, I was Petraeus’ bitch in the 90’s..

(Vice is not a porno/etc. site, the piece is by a man in the military. 2 pages.)

interesting enough, as it shows up the performance, in the sense of spectacle, aspect. a hollow show with no substance. to impress others in the maintain funding, clout, etc.

Posted by: Noirette | Nov 14 2012 16:08 utc | 3

l'affaire Petraeus is symptomatic of the hubris and decline in the moral and ethical values of the leadership in America. Political, financial and military leadership in the USA has devolved to financial looting, revolving doors of corruption and the ability to exercise power with impunity.

Unfortunately, this is not just a US problem. Look at the disaster that is Europe where the Euro elites are literally impoverishing their ordinary citizens in front of our eyes on the fantasy of a common currency. Then the nominal proletarian state of China, where the Communist party elites have spirited hundreds of billions of dollars to the very west that they decry. Then another BRIC economic growth titan, India, where the elites have systematically entrenched corruption in the very fabric of their society.

Are we witnessing the slow but steady implosion of the post-war order? The beginning of the strife that could tear asunder contemporary society?

Posted by: ab initio | Nov 14 2012 18:50 utc | 4

The Afghan and Iraq wars were not failures in the eyes of the Israeli-American establishment. These wars did was intended for them to do. With that in mind, the role of Betrayus and the rest of the U.S. military in this was intentional. He, and they, got them the Afghanistan and Iraq they wanted. The mistake here is thinking of these wars in a black and white success and failure, like as in WW2 against Germany and Japan. That sort of conquest was never intended in Afghanistan or Iraq. They want the region in a state of controlled chaos and that is what they got. And that is also why such military sorts as Betrayus were chosen for the job. The Israeli-American establishment even deliberately created chaotic conditions in Iraq when things quieted down to maintain the chaotic conditions there. That terrorism is still going on.

The real failure here is that ordinary people were coerced, demoralised and fooled into passively accepting these exceptional war crimes and fascist state of existence, as something normal to be put up with, or even encouraged. The failure is of the people of the west to put a stop to this rampant fascism of their countries. And that failure can be mostly attributed to the loyal fascist zionists who have weaseled their way to leadership roles in progressive and leftwing movements and organisations and how have managed to con the people who are the natural opposition to these fascists into accepting, or even promote this fascist consolidation and expansion.

Posted by: вот так | Nov 14 2012 20:53 utc | 5

вот так is right. The war in Iraq is a massive failure to any human being not currently employed by the Iranian Republican Guards or Likud. It was a massive success for Israel, as it destroyed most of the infrastructure and displaced the intellectual capability of the only country that could threaten israel with conventional military attack. As a result, it's now a protectorate of Iran, but the israelis and neocons don't care about that as much as they pretend to.

So all of the failures in doctrine, Rumsfelds children, and the pathetic set of generals initially deployed in Iraq actually achieved their objectives, detstroying Iraq as a powerful sovereign state.

The failures in Afghanistan were simpler, since any successful tactic was forcefully scrapped , high level taliban people were let free, the Northern Alliance was discarded, etc etc. The image of McChrystal and Petraeus as successful military geniuses came from them implementing simple bits of coin 101 and actually fighting the wars that were unfolding, rather than say sending soldiers and tanks bumbling through wherever, to be ambushed at will. So the narrative shifted from semi unreported chaotic destruction and failure into a much more acceptable "getting better every day! wait til the ANA is trained up!!"set of wars.

Petraeus became a genius soldier by letting some press hang around him, and see that he wasn't an empty headed Tommy Franks idiot pretending this guerilla war was Desert Shield.

There were ways to win both wars in ways legible to the average person, and they were mooted very early on. It's strange living in Byzantine Empire 2.0

Posted by: Crest | Nov 15 2012 0:28 utc | 6

I remember reading about Julius Cesar concerning fighting Pompey; he said " this man simply does not know how to win a war".

Posted by: Fernando | Nov 15 2012 6:47 utc | 7

The politically incestuous relationships between "journalists" and powerful government officials is all too obvious. We have a virtual cult surrounding the military that has allowed a lot of misadventures with our valuable forces. Petraeus seems like the usual borderline sociopathic climber type as does his pathetic mistress.

On the other hand, it's pretty naive, and possibly incestuous with the administration, to imply that Obama wants to end the wars. He's drone bombing Pakistan, Yemen, and Afghanistan. He's got CIA prisons in Libya and God knows where else. He's sending troops into Uganda and, soon, Mali. And we all know what's coming with Iran.

Posted by: Cynthia | Nov 15 2012 14:23 utc | 8

Iraq and Afgh. should not be called wars, but invasions and occupations.

Designed to benefit small factions. I’d even question that Israel’s interests are served in any way, but that depends on one’s view of what Israel is, and how its interests might play a role or be moved forward.

I agree with Bok Tak, yet:

And that failure can be mostly attributed to the loyal fascist zionists who have weaseled their way to leadership roles in progressive and leftwing movements and organisations and how have managed to con the people who are the natural opposition to ..

Europe. Listening for 3 hours to F radio in the car on Monday I was amazed to hear endless praise, hopiness and glee at some kind of Conglom of the Syrian Oppo becoming official. Then, a few days later, France became the first country to officially ‘recognize’ that body.

Hollande is not subject (afaik) to any Zionist pressure. Left or progressive in F don’t care about Israel (enough problems at home) and if they do they support the underdog, Ppl of Palestine, etc.

The Socialists, in the shape of Hollande, are simply sucking up to the Super Power, and taking any oppo to join in killing brown ppl in foreign lands, see dreams of lost empire, masking their own serious decline. (Cf. also arms sales!) Then, more seriously, the whole scene of being amongst the top ppl, the corporations, the obscenely rich, the movers and shakers, those who count and decide in corridors.

So in a way it is far worse...

Posted by: Noirette | Nov 15 2012 16:54 utc | 9

Via Gilad Atzmon's website. Something I'd forgotten about.
"Petraeus was unfaithful to us."

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Nov 15 2012 17:10 utc | 10

The comments to this entry are closed.