Dysfunctional Perspectives on the Military

One theme I often focus on is how society at large view the military.

The short version is that most conservatives are essentially military fetishists. They view everything through the lens of “honoring” the military. They want to give the military whatever it wants in terms of budgets, praise to the sky all its accomplishments, and deny or excuse away any shortcomings.

Progressives, essentially, are often the opposite. They are skeptical of all things military. They deny the legitimacy of security arguments, seeing them as excuses to justify higher budgets and assaults on democracy. They are also, often very, very cynical, seeing national security debates as corrupt and rigged.

You can see that in the Petraeus situation, where essentially half the commentariat is saying, “he’s a hero, leave him alone” and the other half is saying, “he’s a scumbag, but what do you expect, nothing new here.”

I’m painting with a broad brush, I know.

Anyway, one thing that’s happened with the Democratic party is that it is no longer friendly to the progressive, anti-militarist perspective. We can debate whether this is a matter of political expediency, genuine reassessment, or some sort of corrupt bargain, but I think you see this quite clearly in the sense of betrayal many on the left felt when Obama escalated the war in Afghanistan or, of course, in the drones issue.

What I’d like to propose, I guess, is that none of these perspectives quite captures reality. That’s the thing about Petraeus. He isn’t some sort of paragon of virtue as people on the right want to claim, nor is he just business as usual in his abuse of power and position as some on the left seem to believe. There is something unique about him and what he’s done, and I just wish people would look at the situation essentially sui generis rather than as confirmation of one worldview or another.

Let me make one more note on the seksytime issue. There is a perception, I think, that general officers are  swinging dick, alpha-males, screwing, boozing, and brawling their way through life. And sure, there are some like that, but in my experience, general officers are about as far from that stereotype as possible. They are usually driven, hard-working, introspective, and bookish. Whether they went to the service academies or ROTC, they rarely had time to party even as undergrads. They often marry young, have kids young, and spend much of their time either deployed or struggling to pay attention to their families when they are home.  They are, in short, often nerds (in a good way), and they are not always well-equipped emotionally to deal with the kind of attention they begin to attract as they rise in rank, and particularly as they pin on stars. General Allen, for instance, has a reputation as a serious, bookish guy. Now maybe he’s a serial cheater, and Jill Kelley was just another actual or potential conquest, but more likely, in my estimation, is that he just didn’t quite know how to handle her attention. I dunno, but I think it worth keeping in mind that possibility.

Good… there is stuff in the post for everyone to hate. So flame away. I can feel the warming touch of your angry retorts already. ;-)






193 replies
  1. 1
    kindness says:

    I am sorry but I disagree with you. Progressives are not uniformly anti military. Please don’t say we are the opposite of the 101 Keyboardists. We aren’t. Many progressives are in fact ex-military and we do respect the Armed Services. We just don’t think throwing money at the military is the best answer to every question.

  2. 2
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    There is something unique about him and what he’s done

    Do tell.

  3. 3
    Xecky Gilchrist says:

    The Conservative Strawman version of Progressives, essentially, are often the opposite.

    fixt.

    ETA: So flame away. I can feel the warming touch of your angry retorts already. ;-)

    Sorry, didn’t read far enough to realize this was a troll post.

  4. 4
    MattF says:

    However, there really are generals who fit the ‘protect our precious bodily fluids’ stereotype. Anyone who, e.g., mentions the ‘Soviets’, and yes, there are some who do. Random story: An old friend of mine was giving a presentation to a three-star, he and the general were the only people in the room. The general falls asleep. What do you do now?

  5. 5
    Watusie says:

    Over at NRO, they are exploring a third way: he was a hero, now he’s a scumbag, and if you give us enough attempts, we’ll find some way to tie this to Obama. Benghazi, also.

  6. 6
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    “So flame away.”

    Why? Oh yeah, DROOOONNNNNZZZZZ!! You haz given GG heartburn.

    Good for you! :)

  7. 7
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    Progressives, essentially, are often the opposite. They are skeptical of all things military. They deny the legitimacy of security arguments, seeing them as excuses to justify higher budgets and assaults on democracy. They are also, often very, very cynical, seeing national security debates as corrupt and rigged.

    You do realise, don’t you, that this is just about the worst possible progressive blog on which to float this particular crass stereotype.

    Good job trolling your own post, dude. Fucking rhetoric, how does it work?

  8. 8
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    I thought about replying to various things – the Democrats have actually been very willing to use the military, they just view it as an extension of government – but I finally realized you wrote a bunch of words just to see what kind of response you would get.

    ETA: I think the problems you describe the generals having is the same problem that Clinton had when he became president: He had a lot of power but hadn’t really been taught how to be responsible with it. They all need their Uncle Ben to die because of a choice they made or I don’t think the enormity of their power becomes apparent.

  9. 9
    WarMunchkin says:

    There is a perception, I think, that general officers are swinging dick, alpha-males, screwing, boozing, and brawling their way through life.

    I mean, I guess, if you’re in the scarecrow manufacturing industry.

  10. 10
    Cassidy says:

    I don’t think progressives or liberals are uniformly anti-military (enough to generate a somewhat decent steroetype), but anti-militarism is more accurate.

    That being said, that description of GO’s is the same in my experience. I’ve only met one “Alpha male” GO and that was General Honore. Most of the alpha male types top out at LTC or COL. I worked for two generals and both were exactly as described, except one was a dick and the other was a really nice guy.

    Re: GEN Petreaus, I metnioned this earlier, but despite his faults he did institue a more cerebral way of how we were fighting in Iraq. In my first tour, something as simple as carrying a shovel at night, on the side of the road, could get you shot. When we went to COIN, I really believe we had a more signifficant impact on the daily lives of the Iraqi people. My exposure to them increased and with that my ability to get out and about and provide medical services to rural areas increased. I attribute that to the adoption of COIN doctrine at the very top.

  11. 11
    Ben Grimm says:

    I think you fall into a “both sides do it” framework to make your point that really isn’t accurate. Progressives oppose military adventurism, not all military actions. We think the military should be reserved for real threats, not excuses to test out the new equipment or make a foreign policy point.

    Progressives have been fairly supportive of military action when it’s been directed at a real threat – the initial action if Afghanistan, for example – and skeptical when it isn’t – pretty much every other military action in the last forty years.

    There have a been a few other limited actions, like the Balkans and Libya, over that time period that were handled quickly and appropriately, with no American casualties, that had a clear, humanitarian goal and were contained. Progressives have generally been ok with these and conservatives were critical of them.

    Progressive skepticism is earned, and appropriate. Military budgets simply don’t get scrutinized, and get a lot of bloat, whether it’s inefficiency, or pure pork, or spending money on a solution in search of a problem. If military budgets were subject to the same controls that the rest of the budget was, there wouldn’t be a problem. But it’s treated as essentially untouchable.

    And the Left is much, much more supportive of Veterans than the Right, as any look at VA funding will tell you.

  12. 12
    Corner Stone says:

    With a broad brush, indeed:

    The short version is that most conservatives are essentially military fetishists. They view everything through the lens of “honoring” the military. They want to give the military whatever it wants in terms of budgets, praise to the sky all its accomplishments, and deny or excuse away any shortcomings.

    The short version is that leaders on the “conservative” side venerate the military only as a means to an end. Mainly funneling as much cash as possible to their cronies and ultimately getting their kickback later. They don’t give a damn about the military when it’s sick or wounded back in the states because that is run by the VA and there is a substantially reduced opportunity to grift through that funnel. So when they can dump trucks of cash to their supporters to not actual provide goods or services to on duty military they talk them up. When the broken body can’t be grifted off of any longer then they don’t give a shit about them.

    Conservative tribal followers fetishize the military only as long as they are killing brown people or blowing shit up. Because essentially they are cowards and haters.

  13. 13
    The Moar You Know says:

    The issue has nothing to do with “sexytime”, although the media is frantically playing up that aspect of it to cover up the real issue, which is disclosure of classified information to those who had no “need to know”.

  14. 14
    mistermix says:

    @kindness: Perhaps you’re thinking of Soonergrunt and John Cole, two ex-military “progressives” (if you want to use that label) who post here and don’t at all fit the stereotype Bernard advanced in his post?

  15. 15
    Corner Stone says:

    @Watusie:

    Over at NRO, they are exploring a third way: he was a hero, now he’s a scumbag, and if you give us enough attempts, we’ll find some way to tie this to Obama. Benghazi, also.

    Reminiscent of Whitewater, eh? Just keep the wound open and do whatever you can to get it infected.

  16. 16
    Fred Fnord says:

    So I guess Tailhook was just another giant mass of sui generi? And the military rape statistics? And and and?

    Sorry, but whatever else you’ve got, you have a massively dysfunctional organization there.

  17. 17
    Alex S. says:

    But what does Freddie DeBoer think about this?

  18. 18
    Corner Stone says:

    They are also, often very, very cynical, seeing national security debates as corrupt and rigged.

    I’m not sure how anyone could argue with this.

  19. 19
    Ash Can says:

    I personally don’t have a poor regard of military leaders in general — quite the opposite, usually — but Petraeus in and of himself already had established a dubious track record prior to this mess. IIRC, he ended up getting the big promotion under W (who had run through commanding officers of the Iraq clusterfuck like kleenexes) because he emerged as the biggest yes-man to Bush Cheney. And this isn’t a matter of doing what the Commander in Chief says, which is proper; it’s more a matter of not daring to offer input that contradicts the preconceived notions of the CiC (or, in that case, whomever may actually be running the show). As became clear when MoveOn sent 3/4 of DC running to their fainting couches, pearls in hand, over its full-page ad, Petraeus’s subordinates didn’t exactly think he was all that. And now, regardless of whatever morality or lack thereof is involved with this soap opera, he’s basically proven that he’s too fucking stupid to be in charge of the CIA, or just about anything else of any import whatsoever. Forget debates about the military as a whole and the general character of its leadership. If someone’s going to fall to pieces over a pretty face and a load of bullshit flattery, the last place he should be is in the driver’s seat of national security, period, end of story.

  20. 20
    Rafer Janders says:

    Anyway, one thing that’s happened with the Democratic party is that it is no longer friendly to the progressive, anti-militarist perspective.

    What? No longer? Exactly when in the past has the Democratic Party ever been friendly to an anti-military perspective? (And yes, I deliberately changed it to military from your “militarist”, because that word’s a bit of a strawman). Was it the Democratic Party of FDR? Harry Truman? JKF? Lyndon Johnson? Jimmy Carter? Bill Clinton?

  21. 21
    Mark S. says:

    They deny the legitimacy of security arguments, seeing them as excuses to justify higher budgets and assaults on democracy.

    crickets

    The 2009 U.S. military budget accounts for approximately 40% of global arms spending. The 2012 budget is 6-7 times larger than the $106 billion of the military budget of China, and is more than the next twenty largest military spenders combined.

    Of course, our return of investment is a tad poor, since we can’t even beat goat fuckers living in Afghanistan whose military budget is 1/Avogardo’s number of ours. But you’re right, Bernard, both sides are equally wrong here.

  22. 22
    Rafer Janders says:

    Progressives, essentially, are often the opposite. They are skeptical of all things military. They deny the legitimacy of security arguments, seeing them as excuses to justify higher budgets and assaults on democracy.blockquote>

    Are you trying to troll your own post to gin up pageviews? Otherwise why else write something so obviously simplistic and easily refuted?

  23. 23
    The Moar You Know says:

    Progressives, essentially, are often the opposite. They are skeptical of all things military. They deny the legitimacy of security arguments, seeing them as excuses to justify higher budgets and assaults on democracy.

    You do realize that at least two front pagers (one being the blog founder) and several of the more regular commentors on this site are current or ex-military, yes?

    Jesus, troll posts. I forgot that we have two years before the next election and everyone will be bored and desperate for lulz.

  24. 24

    I’ll agree with the ‘painting with a broad brush’ self-assessment.

    Sure, there are still a goodly number of libruls who are just plain anti-military, but I doubt it’s the majority POV anymore.

    Skeptical, sure, but skepticism is an appropriate attitude about practically everything. Verify, then trust.

    I’m hardly a student of our military spending, but my basic take is that I’d like to see our men and women in uniform well taken care of, while not getting every last toy the brass wants them to have.

    I’d like to see a genuine reassessment of what our defense and power projection needs really are, nearly a generation after the end of the Cold War. It sure seems like, relative to the needs they’re trying to meet, our military programs are much more fully funded than pretty much anything else our government does. But it would sure be nice to define the need, in this case, and see which toys are useful and which ones aren’t, and be able to say how great the degree of budgetary overkill is.

    I’m actually for drones, because if we can replace a fleet of fighters and (non-strategic) bombers as they wear out with drones operated by some guys sitting at an office in Reston, I’m good with that. It doesn’t seem like we’re any less likely to kill the wrong people with bombs dropped from a piloted plane than with bombs dropped from a drone. And drones are orthogonal to the matter of killing U.S. citizens abroad.

    And Afghanistan – let’s just say that as of the fall of 2009, it should have taken a very strong argument at that point to overcome a presumption that after 8 years of war, a new approach was really not likely to make much difference. I don’t think the argument presented to the public cleared that bar. And the result has been the extension of a war to no good effect.

  25. 25
    PeakVT says:

    The short version is that most conservatives are essentially military fetishists.

    That’s just a symptom. Conservatives are all about preserving the status quo, and any state-sponsored military by its nature heavily emphasizes hierarchy and taking orders from those who are already in charge. IOW, the military (of the same tribe) scratches the most basic of conservative itches.

    Progressives, essentially, are often the opposite. They are skeptical of all things military.

    This is either good trolling or proof that military intelligence is, in fact, an oxymoron.

  26. 26
    Zifnab25 says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a US General referred to as a “Nerd” before. I’ll have to file that away.

  27. 27
    Ash Can says:

    And PS, if we’re going to generalize, I’d say that nowadays, “the left” isn’t so much anti-military as it is cautious/skeptical of the military. You could say that it tends to be against military solutions, I suppose, but the left hasn’t been outright “anti-military” in decades.

  28. 28
    Barbara says:

    So here’s the thing. In the case of Jill Kelley and her husband, those “parties” were outlandish, and probably dramatically exceeded the value of anything that government employees are allowed to accept in the way of goods or services.

    Does “bookishness” get in the way of seeing how it might be inappropriate to show up at a private party with a motorcade of 18 motorcycles? Or getting involved in someone’s custody dispute in another state (and do you really think the intent of those letters wasn’t to just, you know, show how well-connected one half of disputants were)?

    And it is way, way, over the top to rely on a private hostess as an emissary for entertaining official guests of any branch of the United States government including the military.

    It’s unseemly and if Allen and Petraeus didn’t have the people skills to ward off Jill Kelley, surely, they had other people who could get in between them to ensure that these sorts of things didn’t get out of hand.

    I actually don’t think that Petraeus and Allen couldn’t “handle” Jill Kelley: I think they didn’t want to or thought they didn’t need to and were flattered and were entitled to be flattered. It is a very disappointing result for both of them.

  29. 29
    ding dong says:

    I guess wesley clark ran as a dem was a figment of my imagination. also clark succeeding in bosnian with zero soldier deaths also a figment of my imagination

    ot angus king caucusing with dems no surprise there but mcconnell didnt even call him. thats dumb

  30. 30
    Rafer Janders says:

    There is a perception, I think, that general officers are swinging dick, alpha-males, screwing, boozing, and brawling their way through life.

    Um, there is? Not in any circles I’m aware of, and I’m from a West Point family.

  31. 31
    billiecat says:

    So let’s see – the perspectives on the military aren’t nuanced enough because conservatives are warmongers and progressives are DFH’s? Way to go, bro. Let me paint with a broad brush – this post is dreck.

  32. 32
    Corner Stone says:

    @low-tech cyclist:

    And drones are orthogonal to the matter of killing U.S. citizens abroad.

    I don’t understand how this sentence fits with the rest of your post.

  33. 33
    Zifnab25 says:

    @low-tech cyclist:

    Sure, there are still a goodly number of libruls who are just plain anti-military, but I doubt it’s the majority POV anymore.

    I think we’ve drawn a pretty bright line between “anti-military” and “anti-troops” at this point in history. You can be respectful of a civil servant without particularly liking the job itself.

    After Clinton and Kosovo, I think liberals had a lot of their confidence in the idea of a righteous, humanitarian armed forces restored. Then Iraq turned around and trashed the idea to the point where our operations in Libya and even the idea of assisting rebels in Syria received deep skepticism.

    So I think there is a huge gulf between Republican base “our military IS our foreign policy, everything else we use marks us as pussies” and Democrat base “the military is a crony-fluffing boondoggle and always makes a bigger mess so we should pretty much never use it” perspectives. These general sentiments *do* exist. If you ask a liberal and conservatives what they think of using a military force in hypothetical situation X, the liberals are going to be more likely to reject the approach while the conservatives are more likely to support it.

  34. 34
    Democrat Partisan Asshole says:

    So I guess Tailhook was just another giant mass of sui generi?

    @Fred Fnord: Um, that was 21 years ago.

    Four presidents in the past.

    Last century.

    I was ten when that happened.

    I’ve noticed that old people can’t stop obsessing about things that happened in the distant past. You need to get with the times.

  35. 35
    Culture of Truth says:

    They view everything through the lens of “honoring” the military. They want to give the military whatever it wants in terms of budgets, praise to the sky all its accomplishments, and deny or excuse away any shortcomings.

    They also want to use their “support” as a cudgel to accuse Democrats of “hating” the military and America. That’s a lot of what this fetishism is about.

  36. 36
    Mary G says:

    Seems like massive stereotyping and oversimplification to me, Bernard. That said, I do live near a Marine base and the older people who come out to support troops getting back from Afghanistan, cook for the Thanksgiving dinner, but aren’t retired from the service or have family connections, tend to be more Republican.

    The worse thing is that not very many people at all seem to do these things. The military seems to grow more and more invisible to most people who aren’t directly involved, and except for the obligatory re-runs of “Band of Brothers” on Memorial and Veterans days, don’t pay much attention at all.

    One of the things I admire most about President Obama and the Democrats is that they haven’t followed this trend. The convention, while cynical in one way in taking advantage of Romney’s inexplicable failure to so much as mention the military, at least had some very inspiring recognition of the ordinary members of the military and Michelle Obama’s work with Jill Biden on military families brings them credit.

  37. 37

    @kindness: kindness has it. Bernard, this post is Clive Crook-style centrism, seeking a middle between today’s GOP on one hand, and imaginary angry hippies on the other.

  38. 38
    LGRooney says:

    Progressives, essentially, are often the opposite. They are skeptical of all things military.

    I think this assumption of Progressives is very wrong, in general. Yes, there are those manic hippies that cling to the old notion of the military or conservatives as pro war and their mania against the military is simply reactionary.

    Among the professional careerists in the military, there are none that can speak with more authority from the anti-war perspective than those that have experienced combat first hand and there are plenty of those in the ranks, although less than in the past. I think this is where most progressives are, i.e., against war because it is such a horrible waste as told countless times by those who have experienced it. At the same time, I think most Progressives would agree that there have been times when war was necessary. The problem is that by setting the bar high for what would be considered a necessary war, they are viewed from the other side as being in the same camp as the manics mentioned above.

    Another issue is that we have no memory of the atrocities of war on our own soil. We’d have to go back to the Civil War for that (it is also why so many in this country view 9/11 with an overwhelmingly personal tragic lens; it allows them to cling to heroic notions of themselves and everyone wants to play the Superman victim at times in their lives – it gives good story for us to tell younger generations).

    Given that lack of perspective, it is easy for either side to cling to their preferred mythologies, i.e., there is little personal, factual basis to stand on for their given perspective – and opens the door for broad-brush generalizations from their opposition. Rather, the Progressives try to stave off calamity by using, e.g., Slaughterhouse 5, to document the potential horror while the Conservative adopt the stories of past heroism in battle to engage that need to play Superman.

    In the end, I think most Progressives accept that the military is more of a career choice but are still willing to say “Thank you” to those who have served while disapproving of the politicians that send them into needless ventures – from my perspective not since WWII has there been a necessary war (and, appealing to authority, my 33-year-veteran-of-the-Navy father – who originally signed up in 1948 – agrees with me). On the other side, we see the mentality of needing heroes, which is why they are so given to authoritarianism, and if they can’t find them, they’ll make them and then use them vicariously to show how heroic, patriotic, and tough they are.

  39. 39
    Rich Webb says:

    There is a perception, I think, that general officers are swinging dick, alpha-males, screwing, boozing, and brawling their way through life. And sure, there are some like that, but in my experience, general officers are about as far from that stereotype as possible

    Pretty much aligns with my own experience. I retired as an O-6, with a couple of tours on fleet and combatant commander staffs. All of the flag officers were no-nonsense, no-BS, extremely competent individuals. No “GEN Buck Turgidson” types at all.

    And on the ex-military “progressive” front, I was the one driving around with the “Veterans for Obama/2012” bumper stickers all year. Might be surprised how many others are out there.

  40. 40
    japa21 says:

    Kudos to those that differentiate between military and militarist.
    I don’t think progressives have ever been anti-military. I do think many are anti-militarist in which every problem has a military solution.

    I don’t think conservatives are pro-military, but they are pro-militarist thinkers in that, for them, most problems do have a military solution.

    Actually, I would say progressives are pro-military in the sense that they see the military as being made up of individuals who have or will have needs for which the government can provide help.

    Conservatives are more pro-military-industrial complex, with emphasis on industrial. They don’t want to throw money at the military except insofar as that money goes to defense contractors. Heaven forbid it go to healthcare for the military personnel or their families. Conservatives are pro-military the same way they are pro-life: one segment of each is all that matters.

    This was never so striking as when Cantor accussed th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of lying when he said that the Pentagon was okay with budget cuts. And you can find example after example of the Congressional Republicans approving money for various projects that the Pentagon itself said would be wasted.

  41. 41
    El Cid says:

    I think that you need to distinguish a term like “militarism” from “the military,” as not many people use the first term too much.

  42. 42
    Rafer Janders says:

    There is a perception, I think, that general officers are swinging dick, alpha-males, screwing, boozing, and brawling their way through life.

    Sure, just look at all the well-known general officers in American public life who fit this perception such as Colin Powell, Wesley Clark, John Shalikashvilli, Petraeus, Richard Meyers, Admiral Crowe, Admiral Mullen, um, uh…wait, is there ANY general in the last 50 years who would actually fit this stereotype?

    In fact, there is no such popular perception; you just made it up for your own purpose.

  43. 43
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Am I cynical about the military? You bet! From hard won experience of serving in command and staff positions for 11 years from platoon to division level.

    As japa21 points out above, our “conservatives” will fuck over the troops and their families if it means more swag for defense contractors.

    There is a great deal of wasteful spending on “defense” (SDI anyone?) that involves shit that has no practical, real world military application, but is great for providing boondoggles to the right political contributors. There are examples on the Dem side out the wazoo also…Osprey anyone? Sure!

  44. 44
    Visceral says:

    Even the nerd factor can lead the military down the wrong path. Supposedly there are lots of libertarians out there working in engineering and IT; it’s argued that both the work and the politics share a very mechanical and deterministic view of the world where sufficient application of self-proclaimed genius can make the machine – be it a computer or a society – do whatever is desired of it.

    It’s not necessarily a good thing to have the world’s most powerful military run by a bunch of emotionally-stunted obsessives fussing endlessly about tools and tactics, convinced that with some neat trick (or failing that, awesome firepower) everything will fall neatly into place … as opposed to challenging the mission itself.

    What the military might need most is someone dumb enough to boil the situation down to: “These people hate us and don’t want us around. We can kill them or we can leave.” No COIN “hearts and minds” hacker BS.

  45. 45
    nancydarling says:

    @Ash Can:

    If someone’s going to fall to pieces over a pretty face and a load of bullshit flattery, the last place he should be is in the driver’s seat of national security, period, end of story.

    This!

  46. 46
    Smedley D. Butler says:

    War is a Racket.

  47. 47
    Culture of Truth says:

    @Rafer Janders: Jack Nicholson

  48. 48
    Michael Keyes says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    Of the names you mentioned, FDR, Truman, Clinton, JFK, LBJ, and Carter, only Clinton had no experience with the military prior to becomine President. And it showed in the beginning as he forbad the wearing of uniforms, did not acknowledge the traditional role of aides in his administration, and a number of his administration said some nasty things about the military. Granted the military was not thrilled either – a COL was retired for calling Clinton a “pot smoking womanizing draft dodger” but when he did that he was in violation of a number of orders and UCMJ articles.

    Later on Clinton came to realize that the military was an extension of politics and used it very well.

    As for generals, the ones I met were all very bright, every one of them had an advanced degree of some sort, and they were well trained to handle the pressure. Some of them were dicks and others very nice (sort of the difference between Patton and Bradley in WWII) but they were all competent. they all tended to be very ambitious and that was their downfall if they had one.

    GEN Franks took the job of invading Iraq against his better judgement beause of the poition of power it gave him in spite of knowing that the package he was given was grossly flawed. He could not reject the shiny object. On the other hand a number of generals were thrown out or accused of various things in order to get rid of them by the Bush/Cheney administration because they told them that their plans for Iraq would not work and we would be in a long war.

  49. 49
    LanceThruster says:

    I often view military personnel as I do cops. I’m glad they’re there when they needed for legitimate reasons, and resentful when they’re tasked to do things in my name that are not justified.

    My friend’s son was with Marines 1/5 for the fall of Baghdad. He came home with the attitude, “Support the troops, not the mission.” I asked him to tell me about his experiences in Irag and the first words out of his mouth were, “We killed people for no reason.”

    Arthur Silber (among others) has made the argument that while the US is fighting wars of aggression and not in actual defense of the nation, that it is immoral to enlist. Not everyone has the same options and it’s hard enough to get troops to refuse illegal orders let alone weigh in on the big picture.

    I think the most support and respect I can give is to do my utmost as a citizen so they are not put in harm’s way lightly, and are given the support their sacrifices deserve when they return.

    I see the “Wounded Warrior” commercials and wonder why the hell isn’t the DOD and the VA ensuring proper care for the physically wounded and emotionally scarred troops.

  50. 50
    Nathan says:

    Unless sui generis is now French for “yes, I’ve seen this before” I don’t think that word means what you think it means.

    Petraus is hardly the first self-promoting, all hat/no cattle general to come down the pike, and unfortunately won’t be the last. What might be unique is his ability to self-promote on such a thin-to-non-existent record of success.

  51. 51
    Eric U. says:

    republicans are military fetishists right up until someone suffers an injury, or needs to reintegrate with society. One of the most despicable parts of military adventurism as practiced by GWBush

  52. 52
    Cheap Jim says:

    “There is a perception, I think, that general officers are swinging dick…”

    There must be some evidence that led you to this conclusion. What is it?

    Anyway, your view is that generals are actually emotionally disabled geeks? Do you think it is a good thing for them to be or not?

  53. 53

    @Corner Stone:

    They worship the military but hate wounded vets? Makes sense. After all they worship fetuses but hate children. Cause and effect how does that fucking work.

  54. 54
    drlemur says:

    As somebody who is very progressive and has personally gone from anti-military to anti-war, my personal shift is based largely on economic issues.

    Using tax money to pay military personnel is an effective transfer from the wealthy to relatively poorer people. As long as future useful job training in embedded in military training — and we keep them out of actual war zones — there is some benefit here. Being in the military is also a way of making more people aware of the world (e.g., by being stationed overseas for periods of time) and I think there’s evidence that it breaks down some kinds of prejudice by making diverse people work together as a team.

    Right now spending on military equipment and r&d is also stimulus. It’s not as efficient since there are a lot of wealthy people getting wealthier in the defense industry, but it still keeps the economy moving.

    The main problem with this perspective (which for me, dates to Clinton) is that you run a real risk of a war-mongering idiot in the White House putting troops in harms way for no reason, like in Iraq.

    Bipartisan support for spending on the military makes sense to me. If there was a way to bundle it with constraints that make the military harder to actually use, it would be even better.

  55. 55
    Tim I says:

    @Corner Stone:

    I think Bernard was looking for an excuse to use the word ‘orthogonal’. It is a hell of a word. I just looked it up and after reading the seven definitions provided by Merriam-Webster, I still have no clue what it means in this context.

    I’m going to use it in all of my comments from here on.

  56. 56
    Doc Rock says:

    I have been a Progressive Democrat my whole life back from my college days hawking Kennedy toppers to raise money for JFK. I am also a veteran and retired from the Department of Defense and a graduate, with distinction, from the U.S.Naval War College. One aspect which I think is missing from the dialogue on the Petraeus affair so far is that the military claims it needs a special legal system in order to maintain discipline. That special system is the Uniform Code of Military Justice [UCMJ]. The UCMJ is very clear on adultery. The question is, does the UCMJ apply equally to all ranks and files or are there special treatments for special people? Those who rise and solidify power, moreover, by dint of managing the media circus, must know that they are in that fish bowl with advantage and disadvantage. To quote an old TV adage, “Don’t do the crime, if you can’t do the time!”

  57. 57
    YellowJournalism says:

    @MattF:

    Random story: An old friend of mine was giving a presentation to a three-star, he and the general were the only people in the room. The general falls asleep. What do you do now?

    Put shaving cream in his hand and tickle his nose with a feather?

  58. 58
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    John Shalikashvilli

    I have served under this man’s command, and I doubt you will ever find a more down to earth, concerned for the welfare of the troops guy, anywhere. When I was in the 9th ID he instituted a policy called “Octofoil Thursdays” where the entire division shut down at 1530 on Thursday afternoons so soldiers could spend time with their families. I was chased out of my office on more than one occasion by the DivArty commander for still being there at 1535.

    I recall one Christmas season, I was at a party the DivArty commander threw on a Saturday where the Seahawks were playing a game with playoff implications, and I was dragged to the party by command, and General Shali (which is what he insisted everyone call him, btw…he was well aware that his name was a tongue twister) and I stood in the kitchen watching the game for about five minutes before his wife dragged him back into the living room to socialize. We had a great conversation about the game, and he’s one of the most personable, accessible generals I’ve ever run into, with the possible exception of Gen William Livsey, who quite literally ran into me playing pickup football when I was a mere shavetail in Germany. Livsey was serious and competitive and did not expect young dumb butterbars to cut him any slack because he was older and of infinitely superior rank.

  59. 59
    Anniecat45 says:

    It strikes me that people like this — “driven, hard-working, introspective, and bookish. Whether they went to the service academies or ROTC, they rarely had time to party even as undergrads. They often marry young, have kids young, and spend much of their time either deployed or struggling to pay attention to their families when they are home” — are so disciplined, for so long, that sooner or later, something is going to snap for them and they are going to want to just, plain, have some fun.

    Also — I’m old enough to remember the anti-Vietnam-War movement, and your stereotype about the left would have fit a lot better back then. And there still are a few people like that around the left perimeter, but as a whole the lefty side of things has moved on. I think you need to update your paint and brushes.

    Also #2 — put me in a minority here; as long as Gen Petraeus didn’t betray any secrets to these two women, and wasn’t getting blackmailed (which he can’t now since it’s all out in the open), I don’t much care what he does in bed. If somebody’s going to display bad judgment, I’d rather s/he do it in bed than at the office while deciding on national security issues.

  60. 60
    Elie says:

    @Cassidy:

    I dunno. I think that Modo for once gets it right with Petraeus… he abused his power and influence and may have been the CAUSE of loss of life — He DID think he was more important than Obama and like Icarus, is paying that price

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11.....1&

    Most unforgiveable is the fact that he makes the agency that he was responsible for (CIA), look weaker and shakier to both our allies and enemies — General Allen too.. Though Panetta is signaling his faith in Allen, necessarily — they are both unbelievably irresponsible and stupid — yes — stupid. The fact that both testified in support of some socialite’s sister in a personal matter of no real consequence to this country but betrays their small potato reality show mindsets — well just WOW!

    I would truly hope that most American Generals are not like this. Hope. They are both a disgrace to their country and to their very very important roles.

  61. 61
    Rafer Janders says:

    @Ash Can:

    If someone’s going to fall to pieces over a pretty face and a load of bullshit flattery, the last place he should be is in the driver’s seat of national security, period, end of story.

    OK, fine, but you’ve just disqualified 100% of all men.

  62. 62
    Corner Stone says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt:

    They worship the military but hate wounded vets? Makes sense. After all they worship fetuses but hate children. Cause and effect how does that fucking work.

    I think “hate” to describe their attitude towards vets may be a little too strong. But a wounded vet a)serves as a breathing reminder to others that someone fucked up and b)there is little to no opportunity to use them for more grift.

  63. 63
    Rafer Janders says:

    @Culture of Truth:

    He was playing a colonel.

  64. 64
    Booger says:

    Petraeus’ real crime was undermining the civilian chain of command. Who he has sex with is secondary.

  65. 65
    geg6 says:

    Well, since I don’t see myself as a Progressive, I don’t hate the military. I also certainly don’t worship at their altar, either. I’m a liberal who is not a pacifist and who has dealt with and know enough military personnel to determine that it is like any other government entity, both good and bad. My uncle, a career Navy officer, told me that having a military is a necessary evil. And that, if you are a member of the armed forces, it is your job to obey your commanders immediately and with no questions asked. But, he said, as a civilian, it is our duty to question anything the military says and does and to make sure they are reined in tightly and made to understand that the civilians are higher up in the chain of command than anyone, including the Joint Chiefs, in the military.

    The MSM and the right have a fetish for the military that endangers civilian control. The far left, as always, lives in some utopian dream world where there is never any reason to fight with anyone about anything. I’m somewhere in between. I have seen how great our military can be and how it can really change a person for the better. I’ve also seen the horrible things that can happen when the military thinks they don’t have to listen to civilians or that the civilians are too easy and pliant to put up any sort of objections to what they do. This is the danger I always sensed in Patraeus and his cadre. They have contempt for civilians and confidence that the media and pols would never question them.

    I can thoroughly admire much about the military and agree with certain tactics (such as drones) as a way to defend the US with the least destruction of our own troops and of innocent civilians while at the same time remaining wary of them and keeping a sharp eye on everything they do. Painting it as an either/or kind of thing really isn’t very illuminating or true, if the other liberals I know are any indication. Because almost all of them agree with me, with the exception of my friends at the Merton Center, who truly are those hippy dippy pacifists the GOPers love to paint me and my compatriots as being.

  66. 66
    Visceral says:

    @ding dong:

    I guess wesley clark ran as a dem was a figment of my imagination. also clark succeeding in bosnian with zero soldier deaths also a figment of my imagination

    It didn’t help his political career. If anything, it probably alienated both sides.
    @Mary G:

    The worse thing is that not very many people at all seem to do these things. The military seems to grow more and more invisible to most people who aren’t directly involved, and except for the obligatory re-runs of “Band of Brothers” on Memorial and Veterans days, don’t pay much attention at all.

    I’d argue that this is deliberate. The Pentagon learned all the wrong lessons from Vietnam and basically repudiated the entire homefront/war effort mentality of WWII. Instead, ask as little as possible from civilians – above all no draft – so they have no reason to put a stop to whatever the military is doing because it very much doesn’t disrupt their daily routines or confront them with the ugly realities of war. At the same time, cultivate a “warrior ethos” so that a self-selected group of people who see themselves as an elite no longer think of their service as putting life on hold; quite the opposite, soldiering becomes the thing you want to do with yourself and allows you to achieve more than you could as a civilian.

  67. 67
    Cassidy says:

    @Elie: I think it’s possible for both outlooks to hold true. I’m not trying to lionize the man. I just wanted to mention that when he took over, there was a very clear shift in how we handled the Iraqi people. I have zero knowledge of numbers to support, but I really do believe, based on my own anecdotal experiences, that we genuinely focused on trying to make the country better based on his policies and doctrine. That doesn’t mean he isn’t capable of being a scumbag prima donna. Just what I saw.

  68. 68
    Culture of Truth says:

    I liked the General in WarGames. He was fun.

    “I’d piss on a spark plug if I thought it would help!”

  69. 69

    @Corner Stone:

    You are correct, “hate” is a little strong, I would have been better saying that they love the military but “disregard” wounded vets, same with fetuses and babies.

  70. 70
    robert green says:

    my understanding is that over here on the left they think one thing, and over there on the right they think something else, and exactly halfway between these poles is the platonic ideal of Truth, which coincidentally is what “I” believe. It’s like…the Third Way to think about things, and some sort of Leadership Council needs to be convened by America’s Elect to make sure that we all understand this.

    Pete Peterson is surely hiring Bernard, and this wonderful high-quality writing and thinking will be terrific at any one of his organs.

  71. 71
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @ding dong:

    angus king caucusing with dems no surprise there but mcconnell didnt even call him. thats dumb

    McConnell already has his 40 votes.

  72. 72
    majorfrankburnsesq says:

    OT since there’s no open thread, Nancy Smash is going nowhere, and while she’s at it, she tears smarmy punk Luke Russert’s arms off and slaps him across the face with them.

    Chris Cillizza really turned in one for the “Why am I still employed?” files today. Because the Democratic House leadership is all over 70, he posits, the only way to get younger leaders and excite the younger reps is for Nancy to get out of the way and let magnetic youth motivator Steny Hoyer take over. Jesus. Apart from tradition, is there any reason Hoyer or Clyburn couldn’t step aside themselves if age is really the issue here?

  73. 73
    Rafer Janders says:

    @Michael Keyes:

    Of the names you mentioned, FDR, Truman, Clinton, JFK, LBJ, and Carter, only Clinton had no experience with the military prior to becomine President. And it showed in the beginning as he forbad the wearing of uniforms, did not acknowledge the traditional role of aides in his administration, and a number of his administration said some nasty things about the military.

    Actually, FDR had never been in the military, and Johnson’s service was largely pro forma. Truman and Kennedy were both bona fide war vets, and Carter was an Annapolis grad.

    In fact, most men at Roosevelt’s time had never served in the military, other than the few million who had been drafted in WW I. There was a large spike of men with military service during the Civil War, but during the fifty year period from the Civil War to WW I, and then the next twenty year perior from WW I to WW II, it was very uncommon for most men — and especially middle and upper class men — to serve.

    And it showed in the beginning as he forbad the wearing of uniforms, did not acknowledge the traditional role of aides in his administration, and a number of his administration said some nasty things about the military.

    Yeah, I’m going to need a cite on this.

  74. 74
    Elie says:

    @Anniecat45:

    Its not that clean. The arrogant, “I have my own rules” mindset creeps into other things. That is why rules such as non fraternization and such are put in place. There is in effect, a kind of psychological “mission creep” that is more likely to happen.

    This is not just someone having an affair. The sordid details reveal abuse of power and major misunderstanding of what their roles are supposed to be about — honorable leadership to major institutions in our government. Not a personality cult for people, who it turns out, have some serious flaws.

    As I have noted previously, one or both of these men might be suicide risks. Should be suicide risks — if they had any honor.

  75. 75
    Bruce S says:

    Sorry, I can’t find anything to hate in this post. I respect the military – my son served in the Navy. I didn’t buy the Petraeus as conquering hero BS, but I thought he was pretty strategically and tactically smart in finding an endgame in Iraq that was politically viable among the DC elites. I thought he “overlearned” from some relative success in Iraq with what looked like and proved to be a likely failure in Afghanistan on a very different military terrain. That hubris wasn’t terribly surprising. I don’t see demonizing him or tongue clucking over his current situation. It proves nothing other than the obvious. He’s human.

  76. 76
    nancydarling says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    you’ve just disqualified 100% of all men.

    This is so not true.

  77. 77
    Cassidy says:

    At the same time, cultivate a “warrior ethos” so that a self-selected group of people who see themselves as an elite no longer think of their service as putting life on hold; quite the opposite, soldiering becomes the thing you want to do with yourself and allows you to achieve more than you could as a civilian.

    A couple of things. The “Warrior Ethos” mentality was created simply to recondition the brain. When your job requires the possibility of combat and killing, a lot of conditioning is required. That’s why we use human shaped targets. The sole purpose is to break through your natural, animal tendencies and be willing to do something that, in hindsight, is insanely stupid. Combat Arms go a step further and condition SM’s to believe they are abolutely unstoppable. The conditioning involves removing fear and doubt. Part of that means you have to believe you are absolutely the best at what you do.

    Trust me, I’m the best damn Medic you’ll ever meet ;). j/k

    As for elite, at least for the Army, we’re deliberately taught we’re not elite. Elite is saved for Rangers, SF, CAG, etc. It’s a recruiting tool: You’re a badass Grunt now, but you can be one of the Elite!

  78. 78
    Cassidy says:

    @nancydarling: No shit. Someone starts flatterring me like that and my bullshit meter starts to ping. I ain’t that pretty.

  79. 79
    Mandalay says:

    They are usually driven, hard-working, introspective, and bookish. Whether they went to the service academies or ROTC, they rarely had time to party even as undergrads. They often marry young…and they are not always well-equipped emotionally to deal with the kind of attention they begin to attract as they rise in rank, and particularly as they pin on stars.

    This is a good point. Some are suggesting that this is not the only time Petraeus was screwing around; it was just the only time he got caught. But consider this: “Two months after graduation Petraeus married Holly Knowlton, a daughter of Army General William A. Knowlton, who was superintendent of West Point at the time”.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Petraeus

    So far from screwing around, I would not be at all surprised to learn that David Petraeus has only ever had sex with two women in his entire life: Mrs. P, and Paula Broadwell.

    If Petraeus can simultaneously be a cheat and an American hero, can’t he be an emotionally stunted adolescent as well?

  80. 80
    Skippy-san says:

    @kindness: Amen to that. I served 29 years on active duty and am proud of my service. However I firmly beleive that the wars have been futile in so many ways-and they have accelerated the decline of the ability of the US to compete effectively on the world stage.

  81. 81

    @billiecat: Um, no, my point was that having a general outlook of skepticism serves to blind against particularly outlandish behavior.

    I am very skeptical of the miliary (even though I work for DoD). I believe the military is much, much less useful than most people realize. I think the defense budget could be productively cut significantly.

    That said, my general skepticism of all things military (which makes me a DFH to some) does not go so far as to view Petraeus as just a symptom of the rot. He’s qualitatively different in his abuse of civil-military norms.

  82. 82
    Corner Stone says:

    “Will no one rid me of this meddlesome Gramps McCain?”

  83. 83
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    @Rafer Janders: I can think of 100% of women that will fall for it as well. It’s not like we haven’t had women teachers and legislators end up doing the wrong thing.

  84. 84
    jp7505a says:

    @Rafer Janders: I think he may have been referring to us civilians who have little or no experience with the military environment. Just ask a nurse what she thinks of the doctors he/she works with – not many will make the Dr. Welby list

  85. 85
    Culture of Truth says:

    also there is a small war going on in Gaza at present.

  86. 86
    DPS says:

    there is stuff in the post for everyone to hate. So flame away. I can feel the warming touch of your angry retorts already. ;-)

    If I may translate: “I have written something stupid and incoherent and would like to preemptively blame the inevitable criticism on my readers’ irrational hatred of me rather than on the problematic content of my post.”

  87. 87
    Kane says:

    Read Rachel Maddow’s Drift, then get back to me.

  88. 88

    @kindness: Actually, I sympathize generally with the progressive position as I described it. I wasn’t arguing both side do it, what I was arguing specifically in the case of Petraeus is that both sides are largely missing the story because of their worldviews.

    We should be skeptical of all things military, and yet we should also recognize that the “age of Petraeus” is out of the ordinary(and not in a good way).

  89. 89
    dogwood says:

    It appears to me that Petraus has seen women as an integral part of his rise to power from the get-go. He met and courted his wife when he was a cadet at West Point. Her father was the superintendent of that institution. Paula Broadwell provided him with a superb hagiography. Jill Kelly appears to have access to wealthy conservatives in the Tampa area. This alone would make her a valuable ally as he prepared to perhaps pursue a White House bid. I imagine there are many other women who have floated in and out of Petraus’s life over the past 30 years.

  90. 90
    chopper says:

    @Anniecat45:

    as long as Gen Petraeus didn’t betray any secrets to these two women, and wasn’t getting blackmailed (which he can’t now since it’s all out in the open), I don’t much care what he does in bed.

    thing is, that’s a very reactive way of looking at it. personally i don’t think we should even get to the sort of situation, with the head of our intelligence apparatus (a guy whose day to day life is steeped in the most secret shit we have going on), where we’re saying ‘okay, but from what i can tell during these shenanigans our secrets remained safe. whew!’.

    it’s like shrugging your shoulders at your friend driving home drunk because he got home okay and didn’t kill anyone. he still put himself and others at risk.

    it isn’t really merely a sex thing. if he were single and she was not really any security threat (i would still want anybody a single DCI gets in a relationship with checked out by the agency), who cares? but a man having an affair typically tries desperately to keep it secret, as was in this case, and that man is easily rolled. likewise he will start to show poor judgement in trying to keep it under wraps or keep his mistress (or whatever) content enough to keep it from blowing up, and you can see that here with the testimony in the crazy court case that went on.

  91. 91
    Felonius Monk says:

    I think the “right” sees the military as an end in itself, while liberals see it as something to be used only in extreme circumstances.

  92. 92
    Corner Stone says:

    @nancydarling:

    This is so not true.

    I agree. The first time you wink at me I only send the USB drive to you. To get the encryption key you’re going to have to at least do a classic hair toss/lean back/laugh at my witty joke combo.
    I can play hardball too you know!

  93. 93

    @Villago Delenda Est: Indeed. I never argued that cynicism or skepticism was unwarranted. I merely argued it blinds many to the uniqueness of Petraeus.

  94. 94
    Ben Franklin says:

    Definitive militarism.

    In the shit, in Gaza

    http://topics.nytimes.com/top/.....index.html

  95. 95
    Rafer Janders says:

    @Cassidy:

    Someone starts flatterring me like that and my bullshit meter starts to ping. I ain’t that pretty.

    Eh, no one is immune to flattery of one sort or another. If you’re smart enough not to fall for flattery of your looks, I’ll just complement your awesome medic skills, or how in-shape you are, or smart, or how you make me feel safe and could you just hold me….? In the end, you’ll fall for something. Everyone does.

  96. 96

    @geg6: I never used the word “hate.” Cynicism and skepticism are how I described it.

  97. 97
    Mandalay says:

    @Ash Can:

    …he’s basically proven that he’s too fucking stupid to be in charge of the CIA, or just about anything else of any import whatsoever.

    This!

    But of course it is the big elephant in the room that nobody in the media can mention, especially those who have been singing his praises for years. So they have to push their “fallen hero” and “tragic end” nonsense instead.

  98. 98
    jp7505a says:

    @Bruce S: well said

  99. 99
    Cassidy says:

    @Rafer Janders: Ahh, but your powers of persuasion are no match for my pseudo-witty self-deprecation. No one insults me like me. It was a joke dude. Seriously, though, I’m a pretty average guy, so if someone does start flattering me, my first inclination is to wonder what they want.

  100. 100
    chopper says:

    @Corner Stone:

    lol, the other day i was trying in vain to crack some walnuts and chuckled after yelling out loud ‘FUCKING WALNUTS, YOU RUIN MY LIFE’

  101. 101
    Ash Can says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    OK, fine, but you’ve just disqualified 100% of all men.

    If the foo shits…

  102. 102
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Rafer Janders: Or just use “you’re too smart to fall for that kind of bullshit aren’t you.” Cynics and skeptics are conned by flattery all the time.

  103. 103
    BGinCHI says:

    A small tweak on what’s been said ably above:

    it’s not that progressives here (although this might be more true here than elsewhere) view the military completely negatively.

    It’s that we view the people on the right who fetishize the military (neocon chickenhawks) negatively, without exception, and vehemently.

  104. 104
    Rafer Janders says:

    @Cassidy:

    Seriously, though, I’m a pretty average guy, so if someone does start flattering me, my first inclination is to wonder what they want.

    Ah, but the best flattery is the one you never realize is flattery in the first place. You’ll just be thinking “finally, someone understands me, see’s me for who I really am….”

    If the grifter’s good, you’ll never even realize you’ve been conned.

  105. 105
    Larkspur says:

    There seem to be no significant national security issues raised by this thing. Therefore I am no longer interested.

  106. 106
    Rafer Janders says:

    @Suffern ACE:

    Cynics and skeptics are conned by flattery all the time.

    Yep. In fact, they’re often the easiest to con, as a cynic is just a disappointed idealist at heart. And what an idealist really, reallys wants is to BELIEVE….

  107. 107
    Corner Stone says:

    @Ben Franklin: The story indicates they used an airstrike to kill the doubtless bad guy.
    So, my quandary is, is any strike of any kind that eliminates someone we want dead a good thing all by itself? Or is it ok only if it’s by drone?
    Does the dead justify the means, or are the means just justified?

  108. 108
    Cassidy says:

    @Rafer Janders: That’s possible. I’ve never been flatterred by someone who didn’t make it sound forced and weird. lol

  109. 109
    SatanicPanic says:

    I don’t know what you are all are getting upset about. Lots of progressives are anti-military, they’ve only recently learned to shut up about it. At best I see it as a necessary evil, but I, for one, don’t give a crap about military hardware or aircrafts carriers or whatever.

  110. 110
    chopper says:

    @majorfrankburnsesq:

    fuck luke russert for asking that question of the most effective democratic house leader of the last 25 years. what kind of MSM concern trolling bullshit is that shit?

  111. 111
    hueyplong says:

    Subject to further revelations, my interest so far is limited to that portion of the story that confirms its proper place in National Schadenfreude Month, because the narrative to date appears to be one of wingers FUBARing everything they touch, with other wingers spinning around trying to figure out how – if at all – it can be transformed into an anti-Obama talking point that anyone outside the 27% will buy.

  112. 112
    Ben Franklin says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Hamas used an anti-tank weapon. Normally, they had only Katyusha rockets. I worry, that before Abbas can blink, someone will get one or more of the 2000 Stingers still missing from Libya.

  113. 113
    Elie says:

    @Bruce S:

    Yes, I agree that they are men and infallable. That said, they represented something much bigger than themselves. We have yet to know if any breaches of the larger role have ocurred. We have to wait to see what the investigations reveal. But it aint just personal hanky panky, in my view, that makes this so bad. And to have two of ’em at the same time signals a real rot at the core… to think a general leading a theater of war would have time for thousands of emails to some socialite just boggles my mind, don’t know about you…

  114. 114
    gnomedad says:

    Good… there is stuff in the post for everyone to hate. So flame away. I can feel the warming touch of your angry retorts already. ;-)

    Goooood! Let the hate flow through you!

  115. 115
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @Bernard Finel:

    That said, my general skepticism of all things military (which makes me a DFH to some) does not go so far as to view Petraeus as just a symptom of the rot. He’s qualitatively different in his abuse of civil-military norms.

    Seems to me that your argument in the top post boils down to: in an institution that of necessity is constructed out of crooked timber, some timber is more crooked than others, and Petraeus is demonstrably outside the bounds of normal and acceptable tolerances here.

    The rest of it consisted of rhetorical flourishes which added nothing to this argument and derailed the subsequent discussion.

  116. 116
    Amanda in the South Bay says:

    I think the issue is more about security clearances and the mishandling of classified information, moreso than a misunderstanding of the military (though the two are sorta related in this case).

  117. 117
    rea says:

    @Rafer Janders: uh…wait, is there ANY general in the last 50 years who would actually fit this stereotype?

    Boykin?

  118. 118
    shortstop says:

    @Cassidy: Oh, you have. You just didn’t realize it.

  119. 119
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Reminiscent of Whitewater, eh? Just keep the wound open and do whatever you can to get it infected.

    Dan Burton is prolly shooting embassy personnel cutouts in his backyard. He won’t be happy about Milfgate.

  120. 120
    taylormattd says:

    Anyway, one thing that’s happened with the Democratic party is that it is no longer friendly to the progressive, anti-militarist perspective.

    My god, the contortions it takes attempting to connect the above statement with the fact that commenters here haven’t been as serious as you’d like about the Petraeus story.

    You’re going to hurt yourself.

  121. 121
    Tim C says:

    Goodness, where to begin?

    I think some people are confusing what Mr. Fiel said with some different nasty slanders that circulate about progressives and liberals with the military. He didn’t say we spit on them at airports or throw fake blood on them when they come home. He said that we are skeptical, and he said that we distrust security arguments. I’ll say that’s certainly true for me. That’s not the same thing as disrespecting those who serve in the military, and it’s not the same as saying the whole structure is rotten top to bottom.

    That said, I think progressives are right to be highly skeptical of the military industrial complex and oppose the way conservatives treat the military as some kind of perfect awesome league of super perfect superheroes.

    Now as to the way he looks at Generals and Admirals, from my personal experience (which consists of exactly one General, my father-in-law) I’d say he’s pretty much dead on. Nerdy, bookish and not always ready for more complex social situations fits him to a T. I think one of the appeals that military life holds for many people is the simplicity and ritual that governs what to do in a lot of social situations.

    Finally, I can’t think of many reasons why it really matters all that much. The reason people are using this to confirm their particular worldview is that the story of a powerful man being tempted to do something foolish by a pretty, younger, and interested woman is older than the invention of fire. It’s fun gossip, but beyond that I don’t see a real social or political aspect.

  122. 122
    NCSteve says:

    There is a perception, I think, that general officers are swinging dick, alpha-males, screwing, boozing, and brawling their way through life.

    So you’re saying there are people who confuse generals in the Army and Marines with naval aviators?

  123. 123
    Ted & Hellen says:

    Bernard, how dare you introduce nuance and shades of gray into this discussion.

  124. 124

    Just when I was appreciating the reality based approach that they Nard Dog was taking on this, he awakens the ghost of David Broder and erects dueling strawmen.

  125. 125
    Corner Stone says:

    @ranchandsyrup:

    that they Nard Dog was taking on this

    Did y’all decide it was Dog or Dawg? I thought that had been suggested but it may be a little too “urban” as Paul Ryan would say.

  126. 126
    sharl says:

    @Elie:

    As I have noted previously, one or both of these men might be suicide risks. Should be suicide risks—if they had any honor.

    I remember your previous comment on this, and I’ve been mulling it over ever since. And I’m wondering if that matter of honor – along with ego, and how one’s ambition is directed – might be keys to whether such folks are susceptible to suicide.

    If they’re not examining this already, psychologists could perhaps compare people who have an ‘ego-armor’ against suicide, with tragic figures who appear to have been generally honorable, like COL Westhusing and ADM Boorda. Maybe it would offer some insight into suicide epidemic among enlisted ranks as well; might even offer lessons for civilians.

  127. 127
    Teresa says:

    I wish the nation would treat the military more like real people and a real community, that does have issues and not so awesome people every where.

    The whole fairy tale nonsense that “military” must be super human awesome heroes for ever and ever gets a lot of military people dead and ill.

  128. 128
    White Trash Liberal says:

    Someone replaced Bernard with David Brooks.

    This is, in my opinion, the dumbest front page post since Glennzilla trolled us with DearLeaderLULZ.

    Adopting the Hegelian dialectic is fine for attempting to arrive at suppositions. It is not a frame upon which to hang punditry.

    Most conservatives are not military fetishists. Nationalism and Nativism is a lot more complicated than a fetish. Progressives are not knee-jerk anti-militarists. Speaking as a still serving US Marine, you are being a nimrod.

    General Officers are not bookish. Are they academic? Yes. That is part of their ethos. However, the upper echelons of military brass are rife with sex scandals. Frequent overseas tours and temporary duty means seksytime and all its attendant consequences.

    Finally, you are swallowing the PR pushback from the Military-Industrial-Media that this is a sex scandal. It is a national security scandal. A narcissistic driven general who earned his plaudits by devising an enormously expensive surge strategy (Google MAAWS – Money As A Weapons System) as a means to rise to the top… Gets involved with a woman who writes a hagiography in exchange for privilege and access that involves classified materials.

    THE HEAD OF THE CIA LEAKED CLASSIFIED MATERIAL.

    Let that sink in before you start typing another tumescent Broderesque idiocy like this, Bernard.

    You should be ashamed.

  129. 129
    LanceThruster says:

    I think it’s hard to guage (for me at least) what constitutes optimal proficiency of the military leadership in the low intensity conflicts we’re engaged in because the missions are either poorly defined, or the metrics are fuzzy.

    As to what the brass is up to the rest of the time, I found the movie “Pentagon Wars” (about the development of the Bradley fighting vehicle) very informative.

  130. 130
    elm says:

    Your front-page trolling skills are weak compared to DougJ. Lrn2trollplx.

  131. 131

    […] of this blog will know this-I am no fan of King David. The real crimes of General Petreaus happened long before he joined the […]

  132. 132
    White Trash Liberal says:

    And dude, if you write about how society views the military… I suggest starting over. Fail.

  133. 133
    Ted & Hellen says:

    @ding dong:

    I guess wesley clark ran as a dem was a figment of my imagination. also clark succeeding in bosnian with zero soldier deaths also a figment of my imagination

    And he was swiftly eliminated from the national stage as a result. You think that was an accident? He wasn’t playing by the rules: Fail Up and Keep Your Mouth Shut.

  134. 134
    shortstop says:

    @Corner Stone: Ask Linda Featheringill; she’s the most apt arbiter of this sort of thing.

  135. 135
    Corner Stone says:

    @shortstop:

    Ask Linda Featheringill; she’s the most apt arbiter of this sort of thing.

    I’ll be danged. I didn’t think she was urban.

  136. 136
    👽 Martin says:

    @DPS:

    If I may translate: “I have written something stupid and incoherent and would like to preemptively blame the inevitable criticism on my readers’ irrational hatred of me rather than on the problematic content of my post.”

    If I may offer an alternate translation: “Half of the commenters here still believe in the tooth fairy or are sufficient assholes to argue for the sake of arguing.”

    I’ll volunteer for the latter category when the mood strikes me. I think we can all make a list of those in either category.

  137. 137

    As a loudmouthed liberal who often does work for DoD (though not currently), I too will blink a little bit at the trope that Progressives are reflexively anti-military. But many others have already weighed in on that one.

    I’m still focused on Jill Kelley, and her little social circle that just so happened to have generals, FBI agents, and at least one S. Korean official in it. I’m starting to read this as a case where corruption was actually leaking into military circles from the outside (ie Kelley and her wealthy friends).

    Seriously. L’affaire Petreaus/Broadwell might turn out to just be a sideshow.

  138. 138
    kuvasz says:

    @White Trash Liberal:

    Thank you, you saved me a lot of typing.

  139. 139
    Mandalay says:

    @White Trash Liberal:

    THE HEAD OF THE CIA LEAKED CLASSIFIED MATERIAL.

    I am not saying you are wrong, but I have not read that anywhere except here on BJ. Can you post a link?

  140. 140
    Corner Stone says:

    @Judas Escargot, Bringer of Loaves and Fish Sandwiches: I wasn’t quick enough to hit mute earlier so I heard a blurb say Kelley lives in a 10 bedroom home. And I was like, “10 bedrooms” WTF?

  141. 141
    shortstop says:

    @Corner Stone: You were prolly fooled by all the smiley emoticons.

  142. 142
    Amanda in the South Bay says:

    @Judas Escargot, Bringer of Loaves and Fish Sandwiches:

    Ditto, Kelley seems extraordinarily corrupt, aside from anything sexual.

  143. 143
    Mandalay says:

    @Democrat Partisan Asshole:

    I’ve noticed that old people can’t stop obsessing about things that happened in the distant past. You need to get with the times.

    If Tailhook is too old for you, how about this, from last week?…

    One case that illustrates the type of aggravating circumstances that would land a general in a military court is the prosecution of Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair. He is facing a military grand jury in Fort Bragg, N.C., on 26 charges of forcible sodomy, multiple counts of adultery and having inappropriate relationships with four female subordinates and one civilian. Prosecutors said when subordinates objected to Sinclair’s treatment of women, he responded, “I’m a general, I’ll do whatever the [expletive] I want.”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/.....story.html

  144. 144
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Mandalay:

    Aye. Unlike the DOCUMENTED case of the Vice President of the United States leaking classified material deliberately and with malice aforethought purely for political gain, I’ve read nothing about Petraeus doing the same.

  145. 145
    Elie says:

    @sharl:

    Very excellent point. Worth thinking about for sure.. Thnks

  146. 146
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Mandalay:

    Aye. Unlike the DOCUMENTED case of the Vice President of the United States leaking classified material deliberately and with malice aforethought purely for political gain, I’ve read nothing about Petraeus doing the same.

  147. 147
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Mandalay:

    Aye. Unlike the DOCUMENTED case of the Vice President of the United States leaking classified material deliberately and with malice aforethought purely for political gain, I’ve read nothing about Petraeus doing the same.

  148. 148
    scav says:

    One theme I often focus on is how society at large view the military.

    pls consult your nearest opthamologist. For some reason. I think Oliver Sack’s latest Hallucinations might prove illuminating.

  149. 149
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Mandalay:

    Aye. Unlike the DOCUMENTED case of the Vice President of the United States leaking classified material deliberately and with malice aforethought purely for political gain, I’ve read nothing about Petraeus doing the same.

  150. 150

    @Corner Stone: My personal preference is Dog.

  151. 151

    @Corner Stone: My personal preference is Dog.

  152. 152
    Fred Fnord says:

    @Democrat Partisan Asshole:

    *snicker* Oh yes, that was a while ago. And we did ever so much to change the situation.

    No? What’s that? Oh, right, we basically did nothing except spent a lot of time and care making sure nobody would be caught that way again. Right. Sorry.

  153. 153
    gvg says:

    I think you are making a common assumption of assuming “most” people “like” you, agree with you. You may be a military skeptic, therefore you think “most” progressives are. In my experience, few democrats are. I’ve never been clear what a progressive is by the way, I’m a liberal. The comments not to mention JC and sooner show military skepticism is not that common around here. It tends to be infuriating conservatives who most often spout off about liberals hating the military so because you made a variation on that theme on our nice homey blog, you’ve provoked many comments on that one issue and we have ignored any other point you tried to make. Perhaps you would like to try again? I’m not clear on what your point was besides insulting us.

    I’m not anti military or even skeptical. I can see that overspending on the “military” is plain old civilian graft/pork spending using the good reputation of actual soldiers as a shield from valid criticism. The military itself doesn’t actually benefit from much of the pork. Being used up in pointless wars that excite conservatives who stay home and don’t themselves face danger, is really evil and the only stop is….voters. Civilian control in a democracy actually means it’s our responsibility. also noted is how often republicans seem to vote to cut Vet benefits which I see as a double cross. Of course I also think pension funds should have priority over stockholders dividends.
    People need to mostly forget about Paetreus being a “general”. He was the head of the CIA. It’s a security issue. It takes a little time to figure out what has been leaked…so we probably don’t know yet.

  154. 154
    Soonergrunt says:

    @LanceThruster: “I see the ‘Wounded Warrior’ commercials and wonder why the hell isn’t the DOD and the VA ensuring proper care for the physically wounded and emotionally scarred troops.”
    I see the ‘Wounded Warrior’ commercials and see a grift play of a charity that spends a lot more on consulting and fund raising than it does on its ostensible mission.

  155. 155
    👽 Martin says:

    @Mandalay: The NYT reported that the FBI found Broadwell had classified information on her computer. The assertion was that it was given to her by Patraeus, but that seems to be getting walked back now – perhaps she got it from another source.

  156. 156
    Roy G. says:

    In the aftermath of 9/11, I took the strongest position possible for protecting our troops: keep them out of the demonstrably false and cynical invasion of Iraq. Lots of impressionable young kids joined the military for mostly right reasons, and found themselves thrown in the meatgrinder for no good reason. Of course, I was pilloried for being a weak, spineless wimp by the 101st Wingnut Division. It turns out I was right all along, but the wingnuts did indeed create their own reality, and look how well that turned out.

    I think the answer to Bernard’s second caricature is this: fatigue from cynical War PR. There has been a massive PR attack trumpeting ‘We Are At War,’ as if we were England during the Blitz, instead of being involved in regional wars of choice halfway around the world. And what, pray tell, is the reason for having military flyovers at sporting events, and why was the dress code changed so that soldiers wear their military fatigues to 7-11? (bonus irony points for being the multimillion new camo pattern that has been proven not to work!)

    The PR effort to sell the GWOT is to blame. Soldiers pay the ultimate penalties, but its rot has affected the entire nation: slightly less than half the voters in this country think that social welfare is to blame for our deficit problems, not the the 50% of our GDP that gets sucked out every year by the real vampire squid, the Pentagon.

  157. 157
    Corner Stone says:

    @gvg:

    you’ve provoked many comments on that one issue and we have ignored any other point you tried to make. Perhaps you would like to try again? I’m not clear on what your point was besides insulting us.

    Listen, everyone, I’m pretty sure this is clear by now but just in case it is not. Bernard has made substantive posts regarding this ongoing incident. Posts with some insight and deeper contextual thinking. This post is not one of those.
    This post was a “white guys dance like this, while black guys dance like this” kind of post. Just to get the blood flowing a little. Unlike this site’s biggest troll FP, John Cole, Bernard even announced at the end it was all about being on the struggle.
    I played along too because as Martin said, I am a sufficient asshole to just want to hear my voice once in a while and that’s it.

  158. 158
    Soonergrunt says:

    @Tim I: Orthogonally speaking, you should comment more, then.

  159. 159
    Keith G says:

    I’m painting with a broad brush, I know.

    You sure the hell are. And that type of sloppy/lazy formulation nullifies any concern I have about the rest of your post.

  160. 160
    Soonergrunt says:

    @Visceral:

    The Pentagon learned all the wrong lessons from Vietnam and basically repudiated the entire homefront/war effort mentality of WWII. Instead, ask as little as possible from civilians – above all no draft – so they have no reason to put a stop to whatever the military is doing because it very much doesn’t disrupt their daily routines or confront them with the ugly realities of war. At the same time, cultivate a “warrior ethos” so that a self-selected group of people who see themselves as an elite no longer think of their service as putting life on hold; quite the opposite, soldiering becomes the thing you want to do with yourself and allows you to achieve more than you could as a civilian.

    I think the politicians learned that lesson better than anyone.

  161. 161
    catclub says:

    @taylormattd: “it is no longer friendly to the progressive, anti-militarist perspective.”

    The way it was when Scoop Jackson was a leading democrat pacifist, and Sam Nunn was a hippie.

  162. 162
    brantl says:

    Good… there is stuff in the post for everyone to hate. So flame away. I can feel the warming touch of your angry retorts already. ;-)

    You have missed a number of things. Progressives are seldom anti-military, we are almost to a man, anti-war. And even more specifically, more anti–needless-war. When everything militaristic is extravagantly glorified it is usually for purposes of engaging in needless war. You are setting up a strawman, and then knocking it down. Congratulations. Petreaus spent a bunch of time self-agrandizing himself, like a slightly lower-key MacArthur, disagreeing with his civilian management in the press. He should have gotten chucked out, the dumb ass. But, he didn’t. So now he’s a hero. zI call bullshit.

  163. 163
    Soonergrunt says:

    @Rafer Janders: Get a room, already!

  164. 164
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @Soonergrunt:

    I think the politicians learned that lesson better than anyone.

    In his book Good Muslim, Bad Muslim: America, the Cold War, and the Roots of Terror the author Mahmood Mamdani does an bangup job of documenting how the Reagan administration in particular reacted to the “Vietnam Syndrome” (the prevailing notion at the time that the US public was unreliable when it comes to supporting overt wars) by arranging for their dirty wars in Central America to be waged off the books (so to speak) via the CIA, private contractors and mercenaries, and of course thru proxy forces like the Contras, rather than directly via DOD, and of course without needing a draft to supply the necessary manpower.

    The lesson they learned from Vietnam was to hide the conflicts we engage in from the public.

  165. 165
    Corner Stone says:

    I’m tired of these incidents and world goings on where people don’t have a good old fashioned American spelled name.
    I mean, is it Usama or Osama? Qaddaffi or Kadaffi or some other shit? Now it’s Petraeus or as Yahoo! News spelled it on one of their headlines Patraeus.
    Can’t someone either fuck up royally or be a dictator with a name like Smith? Something we can all agree how to spell.
    Think of the children!

  166. 166
    Mandalay says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ:

    by arranging for their dirty wars in Central America to be waged off the books

    And the Bush Administrations learned from that. Trillions were “accidently” kept off the books, and even now it is impossible to quantify the $$$ cost of their “war on terror”. Bush may have been a lousy president but he was great at hiding his spending.

  167. 167
    Soonergrunt says:

    @Amanda in the South Bay: I don’t know about corrupt, but I’ll certainly say that she strikes me as incredibly narcissistic.

  168. 168
    Visceral says:

    @Cassidy:

    Combat Arms go a step further and condition SM’s to believe they are abolutely unstoppable. The conditioning involves removing fear and doubt. Part of that means you have to believe you are absolutely the best at what you do.

    I’d agree with this. An enormous throbbing ego seems to be the defining trait of all the military people I’ve run into regardless of age, sex, rank, or branch. From roid-raging 20-something Marines out on the town in San Diego to soft-spoken bookish officers, they all seem to believe that they are the smartest, toughest, most capable, and most important people alive. It’s actually incredibly off-putting and these people really seem blind to that.

  169. 169
    Soonergrunt says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ: Yup. And of course, Rachel Maddow documented it very ably and accessibly in her book Drift; The Unmooring of American Military Power.

  170. 170
    dmbeaster says:

    It would be nice to get a more thoughtful post about the general subject addressed here, rather than stereotyping to induce flame wars.

    The biggest concerns I have right now about our basic military issues are: 1) spending entirely too much money, which is caused by a variety of reasons (and which makes us weaker in the long run); 2) a clear willingness to go to the military solution way too soon, and a demonizing of those who criticize this militarism; 3) a de facto transition to treating the military more like mercenaries rather than civilians who happen to be serving their country. This last sin is the downside of the all-volunteer professional military, and tends to fuel militarism since the elites never expect people they know to actually bear the sacrifices of militarism. It is not hard to find Republicans responding to the abuse heaped on the military (and the National Guard) in the Iraq war by saying that they signed up for it. It also explains why they do not care about veterans issues.

    Strangely, nearly all of these problems have more to do with civilian political attitudes about the military than the people who serve in the military. There are members of the military who exploit the wrongheaded civilian attitudes about the military in order to advance their own careers (i.e., Petraeus), but for the most part, they do not drive these tendencies. Petraeus may have been an intelligent military leader, but his sins in manipulating the civilian military attitudes for personal gain tend to outweigh all of that.

    So keep the focus on the sick political culture of the right that fetishizes militarism. Whatever the alleged sins of the left in being overly skeptical about the military is dwarfed by the much more serious problems creeted by our militaristic right wing.

  171. 171
    shortstop says:

    @Soonergrunt: The cancer foundation thing is pretty fucking corrupt.

    All the brass hanging out with her didn’t notice any shadiness? I know, vagina, pretty face, flattery, I get it all and I don’t judge it because sex is what it is and it’s irresistible, but dudes in a position to be nationally embarrassed, pick your ladies with a little more care, huh?

  172. 172
    Soonergrunt says:

    @shortstop: I’ll grant you that. But it’s also a sign of her narcissism. You’ve got to think you’re somebody pretty special to think you should do that or that you will get away with it.
    As far as the brass not noticing any shadiness, well, if she appeared to be the thing she was presenting herself as, there would be no reason to doubt it, would there? This is a person who had contacts with lots of people including Florida politicos, foreign friendly diplomats, and other such.

  173. 173
    priscianusjr says:

    ” . . . There is something unique about him and what he’s done”

    What, pray tell?

  174. 174
    Halcyan says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    Yeah, well, I don’t think so. I think this is a story for the masses because it describes how things work for people who are not like themselves. The morning talk show was calling the twins the Kardashians of Tampa Bay, and I think that’s what has got everyone’s ears perked up.

    These are normal people’s problems but at a level that most of us are simply curious about. And disdainful, probably, utlimately of the twins ability to call on powerful people to do things for them. Not multi million dollar things. That’s not THIS level. But things.

    It’s… distasteful. Both that they do it, and that we rubber neck it.

    Shrug.

  175. 175
    Chris says:

    Anyway, one thing that’s happened with the Democratic party is that it is no longer friendly to the progressive, anti-militarist perspective.

    It was NEVER friendly to that perspective.

    Obama endorsed a surge in Afghanistan and intervened in Libya. His entire platform while running was “I’m not anti-war, I just want to focus on the right wars.”

    Clinton had more interventions than Reagan, and with the same quick-in-and-out not-quite-war operations.

    Carter armed the mujahidin, and presided over the return of Cold War tensions after the Sovs invaded Afghanistan.

    There may be a progressive worldview that’s anti-militarism (which is very different from being “skeptical of all things military” and “denying the legitimacy of security arguments”) and I would even identify with that movement on some issues, but the Democrats are not and have never been the party of that worldview. It usually takes a disaster of Vietnam or Iraq magnitude for that agenda to even begin to make a little headway, and even when they do it’s never to the point of dominating the party (let alone the political spectrum).

  176. 176
    shortstop says:

    @Soonergrunt: Oh, no doubt at all that she’s a narcissist, too.

    It appears that Ms. Kelley was fairly free with her flirtations. That sort of thing has a way of getting around, especially in insular, tightly knit communities like the one she travels in, as does the fact that she kept falsely representing herself as paid staff at MacDill. I think a lot of people had a pretty good idea of her general sketchiness, even if they didn’t know about the fake cancer foundation and the constant financial trouble she and her husband were in as they continued to throw lavish soirees as part of her role as a “military hostess.”

  177. 177
    Chris says:

    @japa21:

    Kudos to those that differentiate between military and militarist.
    I don’t think progressives have ever been anti-military. I do think many are anti-militarist in which every problem has a military solution.

    This. Not even the most hardcore DFH pacifists have beef with the soldiers in uniform (quite a few of them are ex-soldiers themselves). The only beef is with the way the people in charge use them.

  178. 178
    Halcyan says:

    @Democrat Partisan Asshole:

    Dude.

    I’ve noticed that old people can’t stop obsessing about things that happened in the distant past. You need to get with the times.

    It’s called History.

  179. 179
    Rafer Janders says:

    @Chris:

    Oh, I don’t know. I’ve alway supported the war but opposed the troops. It’s been a lonely position….

  180. 180
    Chris says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ:

    In his book Good Muslim, Bad Muslim: America, the Cold War, and the Roots of Terror the author Mahmood Mamdani does an bangup job of documenting how the Reagan administration in particular reacted to the “Vietnam Syndrome” (the prevailing notion at the time that the US public was unreliable when it comes to supporting overt wars) by arranging for their dirty wars in Central America to be waged off the books (so to speak) via the CIA, private contractors and mercenaries, and of course thru proxy forces like the Contras, rather than directly via DOD, and of course without needing a draft to supply the necessary manpower.

    Foreign governments, also too.

    One of the big reasons for having third world client states was that they could do the things and support the people you couldn’t be seen doing and supporting. It was a big deal in our Central American wars. Argentina trained and supported death squads all over the hemisphere during that era. Saudi Arabia was involved in the funding. Israel, after Carter cut ties to the Honduran regime in the late seventies, picked up the slack and supplied them with the things they used to get from us. Those players were crucial in our dirty wars, the same way Saudi Arabia and Pakistan were in arming the mujahidin.

    (The Soviets did the same thing. They couldn’t very well be caught supporting Western terrorists in the seventies and eighties, but their good buddies in Libya and Syria were happy to do it for them – IRA, ETA, etc).

  181. 181
    Chris says:

    @dmbeaster:

    The biggest concerns I have right now about our basic military issues are: 1) spending entirely too much money, which is caused by a variety of reasons (and which makes us weaker in the long run); 2) a clear willingness to go to the military solution way too soon, and a demonizing of those who criticize this militarism; 3) a de facto transition to treating the military more like mercenaries rather than civilians who happen to be serving their country. This last sin is the downside of the all-volunteer professional military, and tends to fuel militarism since the elites never expect people they know to actually bear the sacrifices of militarism. It is not hard to find Republicans responding to the abuse heaped on the military (and the National Guard) in the Iraq war by saying that they signed up for it. It also explains why they do not care about veterans issues.

    I agree.

    Traditionally, we never had an all-volunteer, big, professional standing army. We kept a small military force for emergencies, and raised big armies when the need arose, then disbanded them at the end of the war.

    I’ve said this before, but…

    The four big wars in our history (the Revolution, the Civil War, World War One, World War Two) were all fought by citizen-soldiers – the last three by draftees.

    In at least three of these wars, our enemies were the ones with the Big Professional Standing Army. Didn’t seem to do them much good.

    Of the five significant wars we’ve fought since World War Two (when the Big Professional Standing Army became part of our political landscape), only one was an unqualified success. Doesn’t seem to have done us much good either.

    I understand that it’s a different world and that America has a very different standing in the world. But I’d say the time’s long, long overdue for the nation to have a discussion about what these Big Professional Standing Armies are actually good for and what they aren’t, what the pros and cons of it are for our political system, and how to address the “cons” part.

    (The fact that it’s overdue doesn’t mean it’ll be happening any time soon, of course).

  182. 182
    Chris says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    Oh, I don’t know. I’ve alway supported the war but opposed the troops. It’s been a lonely position….

    Just you, the right wing and a good chunk of the independents :D

  183. 183
    collaborotter says:

    @Rafer Janders: What an insightful comment. Thank you.

  184. 184
    Continental Op says:

    [H]alf the commentariat is saying, “he’s a hero, leave him alone” and the other half is saying, “he’s a scumbag, but what do you expect, nothing new here.”

    There’s actually a very large segment of the population who don’t much care who grownups sleep with.

  185. 185
    taylormattd says:

    @catclub: Ikr? The entire post is gibberish.

  186. 186
    taylormattd says:

    @Continental Op: Thank you.

  187. 187
    Ben Cisco says:

    @Corner Stone:

    The short version is that leaders on the “conservative” side venerate the military only as a means to an end. Mainly funneling as much cash as possible to their cronies and ultimately getting their kickback later. They don’t give a damn about the military when it’s sick or wounded back in the states because that is run by the VA and there is a substantially reduced opportunity to grift through that funnel. So when they can dump trucks of cash to their supporters to not actual provide goods or services to on duty military they talk them up. When the broken body can’t be grifted off of any longer then they don’t give a shit about them.

    They loves their troops deploying, deployed, or dead. In that order.

  188. 188
    Binky Bear says:

    @kindness: The most liberal people I have known were WWII-Korea-Vietnam vets. The most conservative people I have known never served and talk up the military out of guilt and Tom Clancy boner frenzy.

  189. 189
    pluege says:

    They view everything through the lens of “honoring” the military. They want to give the military whatever it wants in terms of budgets, praise to the sky all its accomplishments, and deny or excuse away any shortcomings.

    this is not correct. as everything republican, you have to follow the money. republicans could give jack about military personnel. Yea, yea they drone on and on about how great they are, but in terms of funding them, protecting them from financial sharks, helping them after service, etc. they fight it like crazy. The faux hero worship is all just props and tools for getting what they really want.

    What republicans wet their pants over the military for is transferring the wealth of Americans into the mostly useless and unnecessary death toys and military jewelery that makes their plutocrat constituency rich and makes little-dick republicans a woody.

  190. 190
    mclaren says:

    I love the way these slavish authoritarians who misname themselves “liberals” automatically kneejerk the response that telling the truth about America’s bloated senile incompetent corrupt dysfunctional military-police-surveillance-torture complex is “anti-military.”

    That’s a great rhetorical strategy. Let’s expand that. If you describe the earth as round, you’re “anti-earth.”

    And when you point out that crime has dropped throughout the 1990s and the 2000s, you’re “anti-police.”

    And when you state the documented fact that America’s medical-industrial complex costs more than twice as much per capita as the rest of the developed world while producing worse health outcomes for Americans, you’re “anti-doctor.”

    And when you point out that the Republican party is batshit insane, you’re “anti-government.”

    Are you people drunk or brain-damaged, or just wacked out on hard drugs?

    America’s military used to be a fine institution…once upon a time, before Vietnam. But over the last 40 years, America’s military has degenerated and collapsed into a greedy corrupt inept bureaucracy worse than the Soviet GOSPLAN.

    America’s military now consists of rapists and gang members led by incompetent careerist liars like former General David Petraeus (“This administration is f***ing with the wrong guy”) and former General Stanley McChrystal (“We’ve shot an amazing number of people and killed a number and, to my knowledge, none has proven to have been a real threat to the force.”).

  191. 191
    mclaren says:

    Anyone who actually believes that America’s military is even marginally competent or honest, or that America’s military is led by people with any concern for anything but burying their snouts in the trough of cash gushering out of the defense budget while getting their ticket punched for promotion in the ranks, needs to read items like the following:

    [1] America’s Defense Meltdown, Stanford university press, 2008.

    This hard-hitting new book reveals how decades-long problems have corroded the military power of the US. Now, despite the highest levels of defense spending since World War II, America’s armed forces are smaller, older and—in some respects—less effective than at any time since 1946.

    [2] “GAO Blasts Weapons Budget,” Washington Post, April 2008.

    Government auditors issued a scathing review yesterday of dozens of the Pentagon’s biggest weapons systems, saying ships, aircraft and satellites are billions of dollars over budget and years behind schedule.

    The Government Accountability Office found that 95 major systems have exceeded their original budgets by a total of $295 billion, bringing their total cost to $1.6 trillion, and are delivered almost two years late on average. In addition, none of the systems that the GAO looked at had met all of the standards for best management practices during their development stages.

    [3] “Why our best officers are leaving,” The Atlantic Magazine, January 2011.

    Why are so many of the most talented officers now abandoning military life for the private sector? An exclusive survey of West Point graduates shows that it’s not just money. Increasingly, the military is creating a command structure that rewards conformism and ignores merit. As a result, it’s losing its vaunted ability to cultivate entrepreneurs in uniform.

    [4] “Jesus Killed Mohammed – the quest for a Christian military,” Harpers magazine, May 2009.

    As dusk fell, the men prepared four Bradley Fighting Vehicles for a “run and gun” to draw fire away from the compound. Humphrey headed down from the roof to get a briefing. He found his lieutenant, John D. DeGiulio, with a couple of sergeants. They were snickering like schoolboys. They had commissioned the Special Forces interpreter, an Iraqi from Texas, to paint a legend across their Bradley’s armor, in giant red Arabic script.

    “What’s it mean?” asked Humphrey.

    “Jesus killed Mohammed,” one of the men told him. The soldiers guffawed. JESUS KILLED MOHAMMED was about to cruise into the Iraqi night.

    The Bradley, a tracked “tank killer” armed with a cannon and missiles-to most eyes, indistinguishable from a tank itself-rolled out. The Iraqi interpreter took to the roof, bullhorn in hand. The sun was setting. Humphrey heard the keen of the call to prayer, then the crackle of the bullhorn with the interpreter answering-in Arabic, then in English for the troops, insulting the prophet. Humphrey’s men loved it. “They were young guys, you know?” says Humphrey . “They were scared.” A Special Forces officer stood next to the interpreter-“a big, tall, blond, grinning type,” says Humphrey.

    “Jesus kill Mohammed!” chanted the interpreter. “Jesus kill Mohammed!”

    A head emerged from a window to answer, somebody fired on the roof, and the Special Forces man directed a response from an MK-19 grenade launcher. “Boom,” remembers Humphrey. The head and the window and the wall around it disappeared.

    “Jesus kill Mohammed!” Another head, another shot. Boom. “Jesus kill Mohammed!” Boom. In the distance, Humphrey heard the static of AK fire and the thud of RPGs. He saw a rolling rattle of light that looked like a firefight on wheels. “Each time I go into combat I get closer to God,” DeGiulio would later say.

    The Bradley seemed to draw fire from every doorway . There couldn’t be that many insurgents in Samarra, Humphrey thought. Was this a city of terrorists? Humphrey heard Lieutenant DeGiulio reporting in from the Bradley’s cabin, opening up on all doorways that popped off a round, responding to rifle fire-each Iraqi household is allowed one gun-with 25mm shells powerful enough to smash straight through the front of a house and out the back wall.

    Humphrey was stunned. He’d been blown off a tower in Kosovo and seen action in the drug war, but he’d never witnessed a maneuver so fundamentally stupid.

  192. 192
    good2go says:

    No, Petraeus is an ass. You rise to high rank in the military the same way you do in a corporation–by managing and manipulating perceptions. It has nothing to do with competence, and Petraeus is an absolute paradigm in that regard.

    Those officers who cannot or will not, and are probably the most competent officers we have, never rise past a certain level. Like I said, same as corporate-world.

    The only ranking officer I ever thought merited respect was Jim Webb. A lot of integrity, even when I disagree I honestly believe he’s thinking of his “troops,” who these days, are us.

  193. 193
    mclaren says:

    Case in point:

    AIR FORCE SCRAPS MASSIVE ERP PROJECT AFTER RACKING UP 1 BILLION IN COSTS

    The U.S. Air Force has decided to scrap a major ERP (enterprise resource planning) software project after spending US$1 billion, concluding that finishing it would cost far too much more money for too little gain.

    Dubbed the Expeditionary Combat Support System (ECSS), the project has racked up $1.03 billion in costs since 2005, “and has not yielded any significant military capability,” an Air Force spokesman said in an emailed statement Wednesday. “We estimate it would require an additional $1.1B for about a quarter of the original scope to continue and fielding would not be until 2020. The Air Force has concluded the ECSS program is no longer a viable option for meeting the FY17 Financial Improvement and Audit Readiness (FIAR) statutory requirement. Therefore, we are cancelling the program and moving forward with other options in order to meet both requirements.”

    Utterly, completely, absolutely 100% typical of America’s military.

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