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Violent Spring

Violent Spring

Gary Phillips

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Replace Petraeus

Posted on Jun 2, 2009
USAF / Staff Sgt. Bradley A. Lail

(Page 3)

There is also growing concern that the military’s mismanaged offensive will actually strengthen extremist forces, reports the Post: “Concern is growing that this latest wave of displacement will create a fresh crop of Pakistanis with grievances against the government and loyalty to groups that seek to undermine the state through violent insurgency. ... Outside the camps, groups with radical Islamist agendas are rushing to fill the void left by the paucity of government services.”

The most alarming aspect of the present situation is not only that Gen. Petraeus has shown no awareness of his “Af-Pak” strategy’s failure but is clearly intending to expand it, beginning this summer when U.S. troop strength reaches 58,000. Petraeus and McChrystal are planning for an increase in attacks upon Taliban strongholds, which will inevitably lead to greater U.S. efforts to deny the Taliban a haven in Pakistan.

Petraeus told the N.Y. Post on May 19: “Expect tough fighting. As we and our allies launch operations to improve security, the enemy will fight back. When we launched the `surge of offensives’ in Iraq, al Qaeda-Iraq elements sought to retain their sanctuaries and safe havens. We experienced tough combat. We’ll see the same in Afghanistan.”

Ignatius reported a few days earlier that “Petraeus’s plan in Afghanistan is to hit the enemy very hard this year with the additional 21,000 troops President Obama has approved—and then see if the Taliban coalition begins to crack. Much greater violence is ahead initially, as the United States attacks Taliban sanctuaries in the south.”

There are also indications that Petraeus is planning deeper incursions into Pakistan in support of these efforts. The New York Times ran a story in March saying: “In separate reports, groups led by both Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of American forces in the region, and Lt. Gen. Douglas E. Lute, a top White House official on Afghanistan, have recommended expanding American operations outside the tribal areas if Pakistan cannot root out the strengthening insurgency.” These operations would “strike at a different center of Taliban power in Baluchistan, where top Taliban leaders are orchestrating attacks into southern Afghanistan.”

Thus, as Petraeus aggressively seeks to destroy the Taliban, he is likely to wind up going after Taliban “sanctuaries and safe havens” in Pakistan, and we can expect a vast expansion of the U.S. special operations that have already done so much to help jihadi forces.


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The clearest indication of what Petraeus has in mind is the appointment of his protégé, Gen. McChrystal, to command U.S. forces in Afghanistan. McChrystal ran the top-secret JSOC (Joint Special Operations Command) in Iraq from 2003 to 2008.

McChrystal’s appointment, according to the Times, was explicitly designed to help expand U.S. operations into Pakistan: “Until now, the successive American generals in charge of the war in Afghanistan have argued that their responsibilities ended at the border with Pakistan. But the choice of a new and very different breed of general to take over the seven-year-old fight may mean the old mind-set has begun to change. ... General McChrystal, with his commando background, is ideally suited to carry out a White House strategy that regards Afghanistan and Pakistan as part of a single, urgent problem. `For him to be successful, he’s going to have [to] fight the war on both sides of the border,’ said Robert Richer, a retired C.I.A. officer who worked with General McChrystal when Mr. Richer was the agency’s head of Middle East operations and assistant director of clandestine operations.”

Bob Woodward wrote in his book “The War Within”: “Beginning in about May 2006, the U.S. military and the U.S. intelligence agencies launched a series of top secret operations that enabled them to locate, target and kill key individuals in extremist groups such as al Qaeda, the Sunni insurgency and renegade Shia militias, or so-called special groups. ... A number of authoritative sources say these covert activities had a far-reaching effect on the violence and were very possibly the biggest factor in reducing it. … ” The book goes on to quote praise directed at “Lieutenant General Stanley McChrystal, the commander of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) responsible for hunting al-Qaida in Iraq. … ”

Placing McChrystal in charge of U.S. Afghanistan forces indicates that Petraeus agrees with Woodward’s report on the success of McChrystal’s tactics, and that they might be applied on a far larger scale in the Af-Pak theater. Reminiscent of the Phoenix assassination program in Vietnam, a program that set weekly quotas on the number of civilians to be killed for supposedly supporting the Viet Cong, McChrystal is known for applying constant pressure on his officers to produce greater numbers of kills, and promoting them on that basis. As former Special Forces officer Roger Carstens noted: “McChrystal kills people. Has he ever worked in the counterinsurgency environment? Not really.”

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By SINGLE PAYER, June 5, 2009 at 8:37 pm Link to this comment

It is the economy, stupid.
Now the core of this conversation is about the AK-47, OMG!

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By heavyrunner, June 5, 2009 at 12:21 am Link to this comment

It would require a few million U.S troops to attempt to control Pakistan, a huge nation with a population of 170 million. Such an effort would kill a lot of people, but would be completely doomed to failure.

Colonialism won’t work anymore for many reasons.  People are more educated in general.  AK-47s are widespread and are a great equalizer.

The Pakistanis also possess many nuclear weapons and missiles capable of hitting Baghram or anyplace else U.S. military personnel could disembark for Pakistan. 

Of course, Baghram wouldn’t work anyway because U.S. forces in Afghanistan are supplied through Pakistan, that is, from ships docking in Karachi.  There is no other access route to Pakistan or Afghanistan, so the idea of war against Pakistan is absurd on its face.  The other routes would be through China, India, or Iran.  Forget it.

Petraeus tossed the coin at this year’s Super Bowl.  His uniform needed a sandwich board to display all the medals and ribbons he was wearing.  He looked like he came from a Banana Republic, not the United States of America.

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By Lou, June 4, 2009 at 3:27 am Link to this comment
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The falsity of Petraeus’s Iraq “surge” success will become increasingly evident as US troops pull out and all hell breaks loose.

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By ardee, June 4, 2009 at 3:02 am Link to this comment

hippie4ever, June 4 at 2:12 am

I am curious, by what standard do you judge the effectiveness of the use of drone aircraft as successful?

I believe they are very successful in turning large segments of the population against our efforts there.

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By hippie4ever, June 3, 2009 at 11:12 pm Link to this comment

Petraeus is a technical general trying to wage a technical war. An unruly civilian population requires the use of ground soldiers and results in violence and loss of life. He isn’t as good handling these messy situations, but who is? I don’t envy him his job and don’t blame the general for Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld.

The drones, according to BBC correspondents, do appear to be making a difference against the Taliban, but also against many defenseless civilians. The Pentagon lies that they are becoming more accurate as time goes on. Even so, this no doubt will be the warfare of the future: machines against man. What a great surface Afganistan is: room for lots of armament testing.

Not to mention all the cheap heroin useful in sedating the American public over the next decade.

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By Dominick J., June 3, 2009 at 7:05 pm Link to this comment
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Petraeus is only popular to those loyal to Bush and Cheney, like the whole Conservative party.  Obama is trying to keep things at an even keel which makes him even more wrong to keep our troups there.
Petraeus is a war person.  It’s in his gut, what he needs is to be brought down a peg or two…

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By samosamo, June 3, 2009 at 6:22 pm Link to this comment

““aura of success resulting from reduced violence in Iraq”“.

Wow, what an accomplishment!

Totally unimpressed!

But why just petraeus? Why not any upper level officer that wants to continue this imperial ‘war’ for the military industrial congressional complex?

Oh, forgot, obama bush is still impressed with this farcical waste of time, money and resources, should have known.

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By taikan, June 3, 2009 at 4:09 pm Link to this comment

Obama, like Bush before him, makes the mistake of viewing, and therefore treating, the Taliban and Al Qaeda as military entities rather than as criminal gangs.  By doing so, our government has given to the Taliban and Al Qaeda a legitimacy in the eyes of the local populace that they do not deserve.  That, in turn, has helped the Taliban and Al Qaeda to obtain new recruits and other forms of support.  Treating them as criminals, on the other hand, would encourage the local populace to distance themselves from both groups.

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By xyzaffair, June 3, 2009 at 2:49 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Hey, McChrystal can win this one.  Just give him time to build up the Afghani army…or was that the Iraqi army…or the South Vietnamese army…?

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By Folktruther, June 3, 2009 at 8:41 am Link to this comment

Truthdig deserves credit for printing this important article that states a few geo-strategic home truths.  But of course it is not Pretraus to blame but Obama, or whoever does his military thinking, proably Biden.  The US imposition into Pakistan by Obama was a WORSE blunder than the original one into Afghanistan by Bush.

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By Purple Girl, June 3, 2009 at 5:23 am Link to this comment

Might as well Replace all in Congress Too.
I had to tip my hat to Petraeus during one of his subsequent hearings before Congress when he actually turn the tables on them and what they had allow happen.
Lets get this straight- Petraeus and all others in Command are merely Soldiers with more glitter,then the others. Had the Congress done it’s job as the Second Branch of Gov’t- required Real documentation and evidence to support Cheney’s Claims and Decisions (since W knew only “basically” what was ever going on), We would not be in either on of these Cluster fucks Now!
The Bush Admin AND CONGRESS handed all these men the fiasco of an Impossible mission. How many Empires have been laid to waste on the sands of Afghanistan- The English, the Russians….Didn’t Alexander the Great have some problems with controlling that region too?
I refuse to put a pelt and horns on these mere soldiers to be used as the Scapegoats for the Politicos who should have studied history- at least the reports they were given before signing onto either damn War.Is Petraeus,McChrystal or even Gates, or any other, the idiots who Ordered Boots on the Ground to begin with- NO.They are just the ones expected to clean up the mess the Exec and legislative branches created….AGAIN (who decided to covertly help the ‘freedom fighters’ against the Russians in the ‘80’s then left the afghani population to be victimized by them?)
These men have been handed a backward ass Tribal mayhem and expected to create a functioning peaceful Democracy.The Sanest person can begin to do the most insane things when in an insane environment- any surprise they’re efforts have failed? The entire region is a psyche Ward and always has been.As far as I’m concerned they should have been Walled off and left to their Stone age mentality Centuries ago.

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By ardee, June 3, 2009 at 3:13 am Link to this comment

I do not know the General’s political aspirations but I do know an impossible task when I see one. The way to successfully combat Islamic extremism is not with military intervention. Extremism takes root among the poor, the weak and the disenfranchised.

It was my impression that Petraeus was overseeing an alteration of strategy that encompassed more and more responsibility on Afghani and Pakistani participation in their own defense from extremism. What happened to it I wonder?

One might spend futile time berating the Generals but the real criticisms are twofold;
Our Commander in Chief sets the goals , and the electorate decides who that CinC will be.

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By Mary Ann McNeely, June 2, 2009 at 6:43 pm Link to this comment

Petraeus will eventually be the Republican presidential candidate.  It’s only a matter of time and to what extent he will debase himself to be the far right standard bearer.  The Democrats will court him also but, like Eisenhower, he’ll go Republican.

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