Miller Center Forum, 3 October, 2007

Mc_logo_color I was lucky enough to be asked to speak again at a Forum of the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia.

The subject was originally "The Petraeus Report," but the disappearance of that event from public discourse resulted in a shift of topic.

This link will take you to the right page on the Miller Center website.  Click twice on the "screen."  Enjoy.  pl

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27 Responses to Miller Center Forum, 3 October, 2007

  1. Grumpy says:

    Very well done! It is very difficult to explain Bedouin Code from a western viewpoint. Our National leaders must take this into account in their plans for Iraq. You were quite right, the issue with General Petraeus was totally out of line. Me, I’m just a dumb vet.

  2. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Do we know each other?
    No. In Arabia it is quite possible to have some of those loyalties without the others. The governments are fairly new, as are the states, and the older loyalties are still very strong, perhaps they will always be stronger. pl

  3. W. Patrick Lang says:

    A lot of pilots will drop their tanks just to be rid of them when they are empty. Drag is the reason. pl

  4. Will says:

    “So unlike a year or so ago when Israel could buzz Assad’s palace, now the Syrians have some capability to detect and threaten IAF fly overs.
    In my view that was what was demonstrated here. How can that be an IAF success? ”
    1. At first, the Syrians had no capability.
    2. then thru Iranian largess, they acquired the Russian Tor integerated air defense system which is supposed to be jam proof;
    3. Uncle Sam has given the Israelis one of its defense crown jewels and needlessly squadered it
    see the wikipedia articles on
    operation orchard &
    Suter (computer program)
    “Radar detection
    According to US industry and military sources who spoke with Aviation Week and Space Technology, the Israelis likely used technology similar to the U.S.’ Suter airborne network attack system to allow their planes to pass undetected by radar into Syria. This would make it possible to feed enemy radar emitters with false targets, and even directly manipulate enemy sensors. Syria is reported to have two new Russian radar systems, suspected to be the Tor-M1 and Pachora-2A.[8] ”
    next step, the Russians will troubleshoot their encryption and protect their hacking countermeasures.

  5. W. Patrick Lang says:

    I think you are seeing a lot more in this than there probably really is. pl

  6. Grumpy says:

    Col., you are quite right, these three different cultures are not monolithic in nature within their own regions. Within the Whole Middle East, as you said, this is an area of “Total Tribal Wholistic Centered Theocracy”. We will never our heads get around this issue. We need a reality check on our expectations. I believe we will be there for the next 10,000 years.

  7. W. Patrick Lang says:

    You really want this to be complicated. Doubtful. The simplest answer is usually the right one. pl

  8. W. Patrick Lang says:

    “We will never our heads get around this issue. We need a reality check on our expectations. I believe we will be there for the next 10,000 years.”
    My head is “around it.” Why isn’t yours?
    10,000 years? What? pl

  9. Edward Merkle says:

    This should be required viewing for all Americans.
    I’ve never seen a clearer, more concise talk on the cultural differences between Iraqis and the West and the problems this presents.
    Throw in an assessment of the Iranian nuclear threat and an analysis of the terrorist phenomena, and its a triple play against the “dreamers.”
    A heartfelt thank you for this, you are a national treasure.

  10. anna missed says:

    I dunno, Grumpy may have a point – seeing that we have a problem with our own history of “Total Tribal Wholistic Centered Theocracy”, or at least the puritanical Calvinistic underpinnings of exceptionalist culture. Look at Rush Limbaugh, how does he differ from a 19th century Calvinist preacher demanding obedience to the party line authority, posturing himself as one of the (unquestionable) party “elect”? Phony soldier, repent.

  11. Will says:

    A technical trick with these videos, even flash video as used by youtoube, if you have real video installed is that you can record them and play them back later.
    That way you are not dependent on streaming bandwidth considerations. It was streaming broken up. So i recorded the talk. But strangely, even when playing the talk back from disk and shutting down everything else on my laptop, the talk still breaks up- maybe it’s the Suder disruption program. 🙂

  12. Ryan says:

    Colonel Lang,
    That was a good brief. The cadet asked a good question and got an equally good answer. He’ll probably be a good platoon leader.
    I post a lot on a board dominated by junior neocons who get all their information from talk radio and Fox. I’m going to try to enlighten them by posting this link. They can learn more in an hour by watching this than a whole week of the other stuff.

  13. taters says:

    Thank you for sharing this Col. Lang. Excellent.
    The next best thing to being there.

  14. Jose says:

    Colonel, excellent presentation, I really enjoyed the depth of your answers explained in simple terms that I could understand.
    Quick points on the partition issue:
    1. By supporting the Sunni tribes even at the point of alienating the Shiite government, doesn’t that mean we have accepted partition between those two groups?
    2. By selling Kurdish PSA’s, to friends of Dumbya I might add, doesn’t that mean we have accepted an independent Kurdistan which will honor those contracts despite protest of illegality by the Shiite government?
    3. The only thing the Maliki government seems to be able to do lately is buy arms from China, doesn’t that mean that the Shiite have begun to think about about protecting themselves against the Sunnis with the added benefit of sticking-it to the Americans?
    4. By arresting an Iranian in Kurdistan and forcing the Iranians to close the border, doesn’t that mean we trying to focus the Kurds to look to the US instead of Iran or Baghdad?
    Every expert on the Middle East, like yourself, claims partition would be a horrible mess but Dumbya actions seem to indicate the USA has accepted partition.
    Also, about the Israeli raid, wouldn’t a simpler explanation is to try to sabotage the peace summit?
    Israel doesn’t want to give up the Golan so by tying it to nuclear dreams, Dumbya will listen and approve.

  15. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Text of POTUS interview with Al Arabiya:

  16. W. Patrick Lang says:

    I don’t think that #1 leads to partition. It leads to Shia concessions to the Sunni minority. pl

  17. Grumpy says:

    Col,, do I believe this GWoT will actually last 10,000 years? NO, but our leaders are telling us, “This will be a long war.” Please tell me, you are GREAT deal more educated than I am, how long is long? Are we talking about anything over 100 hours or the ground war in Persian Gulf I? Do me a favor, put on the robe of a tribal sheikh, you are sitting in their form of the council. In your view, what would be on the agenda for discussion?
    Why did I use the “10,000 year” comment? Answer- Many people look at this war as lasting 20-30 additional years as a maximum. My point is I believe this war will be a multigenerational War.
    Thank you, for your patience and insights.

  18. Mo says:

    Sort of off topic Colonel, but Hizballah are itching for a another fight and dont care much about casullties? A disappointing statement for me to hear. Itching for another fight to what end? And did you mean civilian or military casulties?

  19. W. Patrick Lang says:

    It is not that Hizbullah want a fight for its own sake. No. They see that their situation in Lebanon was so improved by last year that it might be worth it to do another round with Israel.
    Their own casualties. pl

  20. Mo says:

    thanks for the reply. I think their situation was improved by the fact that they brought the Israelis down a peg or two. Nasrallah’s “surprise” not withstanding, I do not think any further wars will improve their situation unless it was a purerly cast iron defensive one. In fact, if their opponents can show that they caused any future war, their position, no matter what they achieve on the battlefield, will most likely be damaged.
    In regards to their own casulties, I presume you are refering to their beliefs of martydom. In that sense they do not fear death and that gives them a good advantage on the battlefield; But they are also I think militarily and logisticaly astute enough to know that their manpower is a very finite resource and what heavy casulties would mean (not to mention the fact that nearly every member of the council had sons on the frontline).

  21. johnieB says:

    Thanks for your insightful and entertaining presentation, Col., and especially for your interaction with the young cadet.
    Civilians don’t understand orders, and what you can say or do, I find.

  22. Kieran says:

    Colonel, thanks for the talk and for your enlightening blog. I’m also a little sceptical about the particular question of Hezbollah wanting another round with Israel. The party’s choice in the wake of the 06 war to enter Lebanese politics in a big way by heading up a broad opposition movement seriously constrained its actions. Aoun and other allies (perhaps even Amal) are not going to politically underwrite destructive wars unless, as Mo suggests, they appear genuinely defensive. Hezbollah fared well in 2006 not least because Nasrallah was able to argue, not implausibly, that the Israeli strikes did not represent a response to the kidnappings but the unexpected execution of a long-planned American-Israeli war. If he undermines this argument with provocations the remarkable political coalition he has built will collapse.
    They are undoubtedly preparing for a possible war. But look at how they are now playing the expectations game, with talk of a ‘great surprise’ and boasting of their rocket capabilities, etc. This would work against them if a war actually transpired. But it makes perfect sense as deterrence. I reckon they would be happy to ride out the coming troubles in the region, pushing for domestic power.

  23. Cold War Zoomie says:

    Thanks for posting your talk. Your blog is such a wealth of information. So many of us Joe Six-packs feel left out of the equation here in the USA.
    Thanks again for being accessible and sharing your experience and knowledge.
    You were tempted to use the term flathead, weren’t you!

  24. steve says:

    Off topic somewhat–
    Thanks for not shutting down your blog, at least that’s what I think I’m seeing here.

  25. zanzibar says:

    Apropos your talk and the issue that the Arabs and the Iraqis are not us and not everyone believes that their lot in life is to aspire and become us – I was struck by a caller on talk radio today who was irked that a person of Indian origin behind a counter at a 7-11 spoke in Spanish to a Hispanic customer when this is America and English is the “national” language.
    It showed me how far we have to go in this era of “globalization”.
    How many of us really understand our adversaries and our competitors? How many of us not only speak the language of our competitors but understand the nuance of their culture and their core interests?
    Isn’t there a reason why we elect demagogues?
    PL, thanks for educating us. I am glad that this new medium of the internet allows dissemination of information to citizens that want to know and are open to other points of view – until of course our paid for politicians remove net neutrality.

  26. johnf says:

    Congratulations on your talk.

  27. Mike Sheldrick says:

    This is not a post, but an item that may be of interest to you; I know you read comments before they go “on the air.”
    Gen. Casey recently gave a talk at the Commonwealth Club in SF.
    It didn’t get wide coverage, but a couple things on local TV:
    Lots of items of interest in his speech, lots of scary things (the long war), but with your logistics background, I thought you might especially be interested in his comment that we are likely to be short (as a globe of oil by 2030). There are many who think production is already declining, and our unabated thirst for the stuff is contributing in a large way to our current quagmire and to the continued difficulties we will face as we struggle to maintain the flow of liquid fuel supplies from a lot of places populated by people that that are hostile to us or “our way of life.”
    So, I wondered, is the long war about those who would destroy our way of life (democracy or consumerocracy, whichever) just because they don’t like freedom or our non-Mohammedism; or is really about our need for oil to fuel our way of life?
    I would love to get your take on this, as well as the short-term logistical view.
    It takes a lot of energy to run an army and Gen Casey suggested that we are developing new fuel-efficient weaponry as part of FCS.
    I found it interesting that he appeared in fatigues, because “We have been at War for five years.”
    Formally, we’re not.

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