Some things on which to meditate

""Where we have gone, goodness follows," Conway said. "But the fact is that we are not as expansive as we would like to be, and those probable additional number of Marines are going to help us to get there." "  Washpost

"General McChrystal has been alienated." (by President Obama) Dana Perrino on FNS

"Mr President, We do not want to defeat health care reform, we want to defeat you, and this seems like the best way to do it."  Comedian playing the role of Senator Mitch McConnell on Saturday Night Live, 28 November 2009


General Conway is the Commandant of the US Marine Corps.  Pacification, a better standard of living, greater security, I could understand all of those in this statement, but "goodness?"  Does that mean that General Conway believes that the marines are on a "mission from God" in Afghanistan?  There are a lot of people in the US now who can no longer separate faith and flag in their minds.  Is he one of them?

Abraham Lincoln learned fairly quickly that he was in command, not the generals.  He relieved some of them, transferred some of them when he judged that to be a good idea, allowed some to be court-martialed for failure.  He famously sent Major General Joseph Hooker a letter at the time of Hooker's appointment to command of the Army of the Potomac.  In the letter he wrote that his support of Hooker was conditioned on Hooker's future success and was for lack of a better alternative.  "General McChrystal has been alienated?"  My god, Perrino, why should Obama possibly care if any of these generals have been "alienated?"  What he should want is that they should live in fear of relief from command for failure or insubordination.  These are highly ambitious, overly political men who have been taught by fools to think they have a policy role.  None of them are Grant.  If Lincoln had not found Grant, there might well be two countries here today, not one.

As to the SNL skit, what a moment of truth!  pl

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22 Responses to Some things on which to meditate

  1. Lysander says:

    Is it possible that the military has far more power in the government than we care to admit? That while Obama has the legal authority to fire any officer, in practical terms, he can’t?
    Just a though, but if every service person in the Washington DC area were forbidden to wear civilian cloths and had to walk around in uniform, how different would the place look?
    Or, if I’m mistaken, Obama has no guts at all. I would have fired McChrystal long ago, even if I wanted to escalate in Af/Pak (which I don’t) He can’t possibly be the only General who knows how to fight.

  2. Patrick Lang says:

    No. If he fired them all tomorrow they would go into retirement meekly.
    The Republicans would rage, and rage and rage. pl

  3. N. M. Salamon says:

    Unfortunately the only way that President Obama could get rid of McChrystal and Petreus is the former fails and the latter tries to defend his subordinate [which Petreus would not do, as he is too politically ambitious].
    The Problem for the President is the foreseen Republican RAGE RAGE… were McChrystal to fail [almost certain], blaming the President for the failure of Reps’ favorite Generals.

  4. Jackie says:

    Thank you for continuously reminding us that the C in C is the Commander in Chief. He should probably clear some deadwood. The “goodness” stuff is weird. Let us hope he is not an “onward christian soldier” type, but probably is. I hope O gets rid of some of these guys.

  5. matt says:

    “The Problem for the President is the foreseen Republican RAGE RAGE…”
    The problem for the President is that they will “rage and rage and rage” no matter what he does. It simply makes no difference. The fact that he appears to govern as if there is some way to mollify, or deal with this – is folly.

  6. Byron Raum says:

    The problem with just firing McChrystal is that the problems he represents won’t just disappear with his firing. It isn’t about personalities, even if McChrystal might see it that way – it is about changing the organization in a way that Obama finds suitable. Were I in Obama’s position, I would threaten McChrystal with firing, let him move the organization in a way that’s suitable, and then replace him with someone who would be capable of going the rest of the way.

  7. Patrick Lang says:

    What organization do you want to replace? pl

  8. mike says:

    I do not believe that General Conway is one of the god squad that cannot separate flag from faith.
    He has pushed the three-legged-stool of security, economicstability, and governance. I find no religion in his articles and speeches.

  9. Andy says:

    The problem for Obama in firing McChrystal, assuming all the negative things said about him are even partly true, is not really Republican rage, but the fact that it was President Obama who hired and put Gen. McChrystal up for promotion in the first place. The administration doesn’t seem to have a problem with firing Generals – Gen McChrystal’s predecessor was very publicly fired for nonperformance – but firing McChrystal would be firing the guy hand-picked to implement the President’s March plan for Afghanistan. Politically very difficult to do.
    If there’s a new plan this Tuesday, then that could require a new General as well and provide cover for the President to pick someone else to lead the effort in Afghanistan. The other option is to fire him through promotion – who knows, maybe Gen. McChrystal will be the next Army Chief of Staff.

  10. Noman says:

    In my estimation, the “goodness” comment is less about–immanence?–and more a matter of audience and medium. He’s speaking with the mainstream press. Who can argue with “goodness”? It’s so….pleasant!
    Conway was a psychology major in college, after all.
    Grant–who can account for Grant? A man firmly outside the established hierarchy, and firmly outside established ways of thinking, yet a man who firmly grasped the metrics of the situation at hand.
    Is that the point?
    I bake bread for a living, so what I don’t know is a lot. But I venture here to learn.

  11. Brian Hart says:

    There are many in the Marine Corps who can’t wait for Conway to retire.

  12. Pat Lang,
    Regarding General Conway’s “goodness” comment, it appears to me that he was attempting, in an interview, to indicate some degree of progress and optimism without being too specific. Had he said something like, “where we’ve gone, there has been success”, the statement might not have survived scrutiny.

  13. isl says:

    Politically, it is clear that the Obama admin policy of giving a multi-trillion dollar blank check (no oversight) to the banks thanks to Geitner and Summer, while short changing domestic initiatives has been a domestic liability for many months, yet Obama has given Geitner a “heck of a good job” treatment, rather than firing.
    I read these tea leaves as indicating that admitting mistakes is not one of his stronger points. I suspect the generals know this.

  14. zanzibar says:

    Obama swore the oath of office on Lincoln’s bible the first time. But he aint Lincoln. The problem that we have is that neither party offers leaders who hold that oath as sacred.
    The politics in our country has devolved to where the leaders of both parties are trying to thread the needle of selling the citizens with rhetoric on policies that purportedly furthers our national interests while ensuring the transfer of wealth to their primary campaign contributors. Power is being acquired primarily to serve narrow “oligarchic” interests not to “form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity”.
    Ultimately we the citizens have to accept the final responsibility for this state of affairs. Although we are nominally sovereign – we have abdicated the duties that goes with that. Where we go in the next decades I have no ability to forecast but I believe its not a place envisaged in the Declaration of Independence.

  15. walrus says:

    I wonder if The President is concerned about the creation of another “Stab in the back” meme with respect to Afghanistan that could affect his chances of re-election?
    I also wonder how a Republican Petreaus/Palin ticket would fly in 2012?
    Do I need medication?

  16. Tyler says:

    Glad I’m part of the warrior caste in this country because it seems that we only delayed the shit from hitting the fan for a bit.

  17. Does any senior commander of the US Armed Forces understand the implications of AF-PAK being at the center of the world wide drug production and distribution system? Are Officers as well as enlisted ranks tested for drug usuage?

  18. Redhand says:

    “General McChrystal has been alienated?” My god, Perrino, why should Obama possibly care if any of these generals have been “alienated?”
    Perrino is a clown doll whose head is filled with sawdust. This, after all, is the same person who recently claimed on Sean Hannity that there were no terrorist attacks on the US during the Bush Administration.
    Her view of the President’s role as C-in-C is a reflection of the idiocy of her former boss, whose solution to the mess he made in Iraq was “whatever General Petraeus wants.” Incompetence breeds craven dependence on the “military solution.” These people are too stupid to imagine anything else.
    That said, I also think isl’s comment above about Obama is right on target too. We live in very disillusioning times.

  19. Sidney O. Smith III says:

    After Israel launches a pre-emptive strike on Iran, will that be “goodness” carrying Iranian machine guns and rpg-7’s, crossing the Iranian/Afghan border and then following the US Marines to Marjeh?
    The Kagans, all cozy and all coddled at the Pentagon, will see such a development as good, very good. Not that much different from VP Cheney and David Wurmser, both of whom wanted the same kind of “goodness” to follow the US Marines in Iraq in 07, after a pre-emptive strike on Iran. Thank goodness for the 07 NIE but it seems to have lost its luster of late among the DC neo-COIN- neo- COIF crowd, if it ever was mentioned at all.
    But, if nothing else, a new assumption is arisin’, ready for qualitative testin’. Factoring in Obama’s expected call for a surge, the GOI will not green light an attack on Iran until there are as many USM personnel deployed in Afghanistan as possible.
    It is in the national interest of the GOI to see as violent a backlash as possible against the USM after an Israeli (led or approved) attack on Iranian nuclear sites. The greater the number of US casualties, the better for the Kagan crowd. Cheney admitted as much in 07. In other words , Cheney admitted he wanted to see the slaughter of US soldiers to promote Bernard Lewis’ strategic goals.
    Ho-hum. Yawn. Stretch.
    It is a sad day when one way to establish the probabilities of the timing of an Israeli attack on Iran is based on how many US casualties will ensue. Yet, according to the dictates of the Kagan strategy — based upon the Cheney admission — the optimum time to launch an attack on Iran is when the optimum number of US casualties will occur.
    Sure, after Israel attacks Iran, Jeffery Goldberg and Drudge will post a few sentimental comments paying tribute to the US Soldier.
    You think Goldberg cares about the welfare of the US soldier or the American people? Spare me. Good God…
    And evangelicals will weep sentimental tears while standing next to a floral arrangement, including, common sense would suggest, a Styrofoam telephone along with the words, “Jesus Called”. Congress will take up the call, led by the likes of Lindsay Graham, and they most certainly will come across as most sentimental.
    But don’t forget the old saying…sentimentality is but an echo of brutality. And goodness knows that ain’t no lie.

  20. YT says:

    Sidney O. Smith III,
    How funny that this jesus you speak of seems to favor these chicken hawks & their overseas adventures. While they enjoy their fat cigars & gin in the company of their most “christian” folk, the youths of America bleed in the hills & desert cities of the Middle East.

  21. Pat Lang,
    My view of a potential “Day” is that we should, first, deep six terms such as, surgical strike, pre-emptive attack, or any other substitute for what would be an act of war.
    The probabilities for for war with Iran are, in my estimation:
    1. Iran starting a war with the U.S. or Israel-close to zero
    2. The U.S. starting a war with Iran – unlikely.
    3. Israel alone starting a war with Iran – also unlikely but more probable than # 2.
    4. Israel, with American connivance, support, or participation, starting a war with Iran – the most probable of the four, I would estimate it to be somewhat likely.
    However it were to begin, I believe such a war would be a drawn out affair and, for us, perhaps an equivalent of the Athenian expedition to Syracuse. (See Thucydides).

  22. hotrod says:

    This is peripheral to COL Lang’s focus on goals, but General Conway has said, and continues to say, a great many things – a large percentage of which have nothing to do with his legal responsibilities as Commandant of the Corps. Instead he seems to continually get in the operational business of the regional commanders, whether with that MARSOC unit dustup a couple of years ago (,13319,136157,00.html ) or his continuous lobbying for redeployment of the Marine units in Iraq to permit their increased use in Afghanistan. Lots of other examples as well. I’m not a Marine, so I don’t have much of a (Devil) dog in the hunt, but the CSA, CSAF and CNO just don’t, as far as I know, act that way. Perhaps General Conway considers that a selling point – I have no idea.
    Personally, I kind of wish he would just take care of the Corps and let GEN Petreus and his subordinates (along with Admiral Stavridis/EUCOM, Admiral Willard/PACOM and whoever else) alone to do their jobs.

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