The first post tells why. It may be too little, but hopefully not too late.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Dashing general

Call me paranoid (probably many of us who come from the Soviet Union are justifiably so anyway), but I doubt General Stanley McChrystal was indeed reckless to say what he said regarding the Supreme Balaboss. No way he did not know the MO1 and ROE2 when dealing with a CO3, especially as hollow as BHO. Surely Stan knew that one is not supposed to malign anybody a notch above you in the Army hierarchy - that's the whole Army thing. No army can function if the lines of authority are not strictly maintained. My uneducated guess is that the general, far from being rash, mindless and a bad example to his subordinates, did it - the only alternative left - on purpose. Say, got tired of the supreme incompetence of the likes of Biden and his golf buddy in the WH (do they often get to play together or the interests of national security keep them playing separate?). Say, decided that whatever comes  - resignation or retirement, - his replacement will be listened to with greater attention and the critical decisions will not take forever. He did apologize, but I am willing to read into that apology non-admission of guilt: he said, "What is reflected in this article falls far short of [his] standard [principles of personal honor and professional integrity]", and the reflections are not necessarily true.  Especially when those reflections are in a leftist musical gossip magazine (a nice picture of The Beatles playing in water though).

All this may be a stretch or wishful thinking, but it does not matter much. Even if the general said it thoughtlessly, and carelessly entertained that kind of disparaging remarks about the administration from his subordinates, it tells at least as much about the administration as it does about McChrystal's army etiquette. To wit, that the administration has not earned as little respect from people who risk their lives every second as for them to at least follow their common rules of conduct. These people see their Supreme Commander on the news declaring that they serve America's vital interests, which, one guesses, will cease to be so in, oh, about a year when the troop withdrawal is scheduled to start, with no victory mentioned. They know that it took months for him to accept McChrystal's request for more troops on which their lives depended, and then deducting a quarter from the number requested. Those who do research using governmental funding are well familiar with the thinking behind deductions like that. This is one of the many ways for bureaucrats to exercise their power and show their creativity - to cut a study's budget by 15, 25 or another round number of percentage points, despite the fact that the budget has been approved by peer review, i.e. by people who know how much is needed to do what's planned. It is not good for research, nor is it for the Army where lives are at stake. This is the type of strategy Leo Tolstoy made a joke of in War and Peace, talking about German generals-bureaucrats with their calculations, "Die erste Kolonne marschiert... die zweite Kolonne marschiert... die dritte Kolonne marschiert." Call me a doubting Thomas, but I am afraid that Gen. Petraeus, who has been exposed to Obama's "strategery" before, does not hold a lot of respect for him either. How long will it take for him to have enough?
1MO, modus operandi
2ROE, rules of engagement
3CO, commanding officer

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