National Journal Blog – 22 February, 2010

I have chosen to refer you here to a comment by Professor Michael Brenner of Pittsburgh University posted in this week's National Journal National Security Blog.


"Operation New Dawn! How disarming it would be were this a sign that a bit of dry wit had penetrated the mental fastness that is the American defense establishment. Alas, the truth is that the Pentagon's public relations machine is still grinding away. This administration's dedication to continuing the tradition of dishonest public communication bequeathed it by the Bush bunch is of cardinal importance. For its implications for how we conduct the nation's affairs are deeper and more enduring than this ridiculous try at casting the mantle of success over our gory, corrupt and inept escapade in Iraq. First a few thoughts on the dimensions of our failure there."

Professor Michael Brenner

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11 Responses to National Journal Blog – 22 February, 2010

  1. Jackie says:

    Professor Brenner has provided a brutally honest read. Thank you for posting it.
    As to the new name the Pentagon has given the Iraqi operation, they could have called it “new ivory” and it would mean as much.

  2. Jose says:

    It should actually be called, ” طلوع جدید ,” IMHO.

  3. FB Ali says:

    Excellent article. A very realistic summary of the whole Iraqi debacle.
    Thank you for drawing attention to it.

  4. Charles I says:

    Thanks. After some honest questions re Iraq, the question remains: What are we doing in Afghanistan?
    Nato is not coughing up the requested 10,000 troops to join the surge. The Dutch and Canadians are leaving. No other Nato countries seem inclined to replace those forces in the crucial south. Russia will not send troops, and is demanding counternarcotics/drug mafia operations.
    Today comes news that Karzai has signed a decree, absent from any previous discussions of governance or power-sharing, that gives him unilateral control over appointments to the Electoral Commission that performed so admirably for the country last year.
    Would somebody kindly share Jose’s appellation with the rest of the linguistically challenged amongst me?

  5. Fred Strack says:

    It is always interesting to read the National Journal.
    Just how much Cool Aid die Kori Schake (Hoover Fellow and Distinguished Chair in International Security Studies, West Point) drink? (And just how do you become a professor at West Point?).
    “Quite a lot has been achieved in Iraq. A hostile government armed with nuclear weapons — which is what the Bush administration believed it was preventing in 2003 — is no longer a threat in Iraq.” This is two lies in one. Unbelievable
    “Did the Administration really not notice until the election commission disqualified 500 candidates that Ahmad Chalabi would not be a force for good in such a role?”
    Excuse me but you are an Administration (or 2, or maybe 3) behind. Chalabi was never a force ‘for good’ or for US national interests.
    As for the other post from Mr. Serwer: “But there is still the possibility of a credible election March 7.” Yes, and there is the possibility of my winning the lotto next week too. That chance will cost me $1. “There is still a real possibility that Iraq will turn out better than many feared: a relatively open and somewhat tolerant society governed through more or less representative institutions and aligned if not allied with the U.S.” Well, on second thought I definitely have a better chance of winning the lotto. Of couse I can afford to lose $1 if I am wrong; and no one is going to blow up the mini-mart while I buy a ticket.

  6. Patrick Lang says:

    In re how people get to be professors at WP. 1-They pick out some of their brighter cadets and at the six or seven year point after graduation send them to grad schools and bring the back as instructors. 2-They hire some civilian academics as faculty through the usual search provess. These are civil service jobs. 3- They reach out into the greater Army and dragoon a few faculty like me. I was an Assistant Professor. Above the assistant professor level they have permanent associate professors and full professors, all military. These guys stay there until they retire. These positions are competed, sort of. I was asked to stay permanently as an associate professor and declined. pl

  7. Fred Strack says:

    I think this is a case where I should have held my fire on the subject of instructors. Most of the best I had on active duty were service members themselves. My appologies, including to Dr. Schake, though I disagree with her conclusions on this topic.

  8. Pat Lang,
    I just got around to this one, so I’ a little late. Dr. Brenner’s appraisal is cold-eyed, realistic, and dead-on.
    I was struck by the over all level of pessimism, including those who were trying to say something nice about the invasion of Iraq. Dr. Schake was trying, in her essay, to exercise positive thinking, however she was mostly just incoherent. West Point could do a lot better.

  9. Patrick Lang says:

    Maye she is at the terrorism center there which is not exactly the faculty? PL

  10. Got A Watch says:

    A couple pieces at ATol pretty much sum up the situation in Afghanistan.
    Marjah push aimed to shape US opinion
    “Feb 25 WASHINGTON – Senior military officials decided to launch the current United States-British military campaign to seize Marjah in large part to influence domestic US opinion on the war in Afghanistan, the Washington Post reported on Monday.
    The Post report, by Greg Jaffe and Craig Whitlock, both of whom cover military affairs, said the town of Marjah in Helmand province would not have been chosen as a target for a US military operation had the criterion been military significance instead of impact on domestic public opinion.
    The primary goal of the offensive, they write, is to “convince Americans that a new era has arrived in the eight-year long war”. United States military officials in Afghanistan “hope a large and loud victory in Marjah will convince the American public that they deserve more time to demonstrate that extra troops and new tactics can yield better results on the battlefield”, according to Jaffe and Whitlock.”<---words fail me Fixing Washington … in Afghanistan
    “So explain something to me: Why does the military of a country convinced it’s becoming ungovernable think itself so capable of making another ungovernable country governable? What’s the military’s skill set here? What lore, what body of political knowledge, are they drawing on? Who do they think they represent, the Philadelphia of 1776 or the Washington of 2010, and if the latter, why should Americans be considered the globe’s leading experts in good government anymore? And while we’re at it, fill me in on one other thing: Just what has convinced American officials in Afghanistan and the nation’s capital that they have the special ability to teach, prod, wheedle, bribe or force Afghans to embark on good governance in their country if we can’t do it in Washington or Sacramento?”
    It matters little now what happens militarily in Afghanistan. The financial situation is so perilous it is a bigger threat to national security than any terrorist. Greece is the future for most Western nations.

  11. Patrick Lang says:

    I believe this is what I said a while back. pl

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