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Posts Tagged ‘Chuck Spinney’

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Imperial Hubris

A Review of The Pentagon Labyrinth

By Werther

Electric Politics, March 6, 2011 12:33 PM

http://www.electricpolitics.com/2011/03/imperial_hubris.html

* Werther is the pen name of a Northern Virginia-based defense analyst.

In a recent radio interview, the British historian Timothy Garton Ash stated that his overall impression of the United States was one of dynamism and entrepreneurial spirit, such as in the Silicon Valley. But Washington, D.C., he said, reminded him of Moscow in the former Soviet Union.

In the context of the interview, he probably intended that as a criticism of the U.S. capital as being stagnant, status quo, and wedded to obsolete theories. But in a more pointed way he may not have consciously meant, it is equally true that Washington is remarkably like late-Brezhnev era Moscow in the sense of being very visibly the capital of a garrison state. With its billboard adverts for fighter aircraft in local Metro stations, radio spots recruiting for “the National Clandestine Service,” its ubiquitous Jersey Wall checkpoints, and its electronic freeway signs admonishing motorists to report suspicious activity (whatever that may be), the District of Columbia quite accurately simulates the paranoid atmosphere of a cold war era capital of Eastern Europe, say, East Berlin or Bucharest, albeit at two orders of magnitude greater cost.

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From my good friends Chuck Spinney and COL (USMC ret.) G.I. Wilson.  A bottom up solution to disaster relief, leaders on the ground making things happen without all the overhead.

Attached is an important eyewitness assessment of the current situation in Haiti. It was written by William McNulty, William McNulty is a Sgt in the Marine Corps Reserve and when he was a Cpl he already had a MA in John Hopkins…..William has no burning desire to be an officer let alone a LtCol…William likes being accountable, responsible, and getting things done without a whole of PC and fanfare. I am very blessed to know him and like most Marine enlisted I would go with William anywhere… long live the Irish !.  S/F  Col. GI Wilson USMC Ret

William is a volunteer member of Team Rubicon, a self-financed and self-deployed group of former Marines, soldiers and health care professionals currently providing emergency relief in Haiti. (see web site at http://blog.teamrubiconhaiti.org). McNulty paints a grim picture of condition in Haiti and especially, as he puts it, “… the impotence of western power to deal with disasters/emergencies;for either out of lack of compassion, political correctness, or because the institutions set up to take care of emergencies are so overburdened with layers of bureaucracy that they are ineffective.”

Haiti Reality Check

William McNulty Former Asst Team Lead Team Rubicon January 24, 2010 http://blog.teamrubiconhaiti.org/2010/01/deputy-tl-mcnulty-aar-pulls-no-punches.html

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It is axiomatic that high quality intelligence intelligence is a necessary, if not sufficient, condition for effective OODA Loops at the tactical, operational, and strategic levels of combat. But today’s Guardian (attached below) describes the conclusions of an internal report that is highly critical of our intelligence operations in Afghanistan. It paints a horrifying portrait of an inwardly focused OODA loop that is seeing what it wants to see and is so clogged up by its own bureaucratic procedures that it brings to mind the madness of Joseph Heller’s “Catch 22.”

The analysis at issue was prepared by the RAND Corporation for the US Joint Forces Command, and although it is unclassified, its distribution was limited by being stamped “For Official Use Only.” But this is the age of networks, and it is only a matter of time, a short time, that something that is unclassified and this explosive would flood the ether. So it should be no surprise that the Rand study is now widely available on the internet.

This is something the Obama team should read carefully ASAP, and my guess is that it will be news to them. After all, broken OODA Loops mean lost wars, and our new President was just maneuvered into approving a 17,000 man increase in US troop strength in Afghanistan, despite the fact that, according to Gareth Porter, the Commander, General McKiernan, could not tell the President how these troops would be used and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff could not tell Mr. Obama what the exit strategy would be.

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by William S. Lind
15 December 2008

America’s Defense Meltdown is the title of a new book on military reform, edited by Winslow Wheeler and published by the Center for Defense Information. In it, some of the leading figures from the military reform movement of the 1970’s and ‘80’s update their work and relate it to today’s challenges, including that posed by Fourth Generation war.

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When Michael Gorbachev peacefully ended the Cold War and withdrew Russian forces from Eastern Europe, the US promised him that it would not take advantage of the situation by expanding NATO into the vacuum. But this promise was broken almost immediately, first by the Clinton Administration, and then again by the Bush Administration.

Throughout the 1990s, America viewed itself as the world’s last remaining superpower, or in Secretary of State Madeline Albright’s narcissistic phrase — “the world’s indispensable power.” Pundits gushed over abstractions like “America’s unipolar moment,” while thinktankers concocted geopolitical visions of American empires, New American Centuries, all made possible by a new era of unilateral coercive diplomacy, where move and countermove would be choreographed by quick and nearly bloodless precision military strikes, made possible by the US monopoly of the “Revolution in Military Affairs.”

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With both presidential candidates anxious to increase the US military presence on the ground and in the air in Afghanistan, the Washington community would appear to have achieved a consensus.  Perhaps, but that does not mean it’s a good idea.  Pentagon insider Franklin (“Chuck”) Spinney, now sort of retired and at sea in the Mediterranean, fully explains.

This article appeared in CounterPunch on July 30 and can be found at http://www.counterpunch.org/spinney07302008.html and below.

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I know Andrew Bacevich. He is a great soldier, gave me an extensive interview for my book, Path to Victory when I was writing it. I also knew a couple of his former troop commanders (he commanded the 11th ACR during and after the First Gulf War). He also lost his son in Iraq two years ago. He just testified before a House Armed Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations yesterday. The themes in his remarks are ones he addresses more thoroughly in his forthcoming book, they are the people of the Middle East or the entire Islamic world. To persist in seeing U. S. grand strategy as a project aimed at changing the way they live will be to court bankruptcy and exhaustion. In fact, the choice facing the United States is this one: we can ignore the imperative to change the way we live, in which case we will drown in an ocean of red ink; or we can choose to mend our ways, curbing our profligate inclinations, regaining our freedom of action, and thereby preserving all that we value most. In the end, how we manage, or mismanage, our affairs here at home will prove to be far more decisive than our efforts to manage events beyond our shores, whether in the Persian Gulf or East Asia or elsewhere. The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism, which I heartily recommend.

The following testimony on Grand Strategy is excellent, and I could not agree with it more. It amazes me that the so called smart people within Washington D.C. with all their resumes and think tanks, cannot figure this one out. In my opinion, we still have time to salvage and put our nation back on course, but the hard part is that it is going to take smart and tough leaders to do it. As I have said before and before, “where have all the leaders gone?”

His testimony is reproduced below:

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by Chuck Spinney

A recent article by Thomas Powers in the New York Review of Books is a very good analysis of why Mr. Bush’s impulse to attack Iran before he leaves office is sheer madness. And at a deeper level, it well illustrates how perverted the militarization of US grand strategy has become at the dawn of the 21st Century.

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