Add this Page to Facebook!   Submit to Twitter   Submit to Reddit   Submit to Stumble Upon   Pin It!   Fark It!   Tell A Friend  
Printer Friendly Page Save As Favorite Save As Favorite View Article Stats
2 comments

General News

About the war in Afghanistan, from "The Operators" by Michael Hastings

By (about the author)     Permalink       (Page 1 of 2 pages)
Related Topic(s): ; ; ; ; , Add Tags Add to My Group(s)

View Ratings | Rate It

Headlined to H3 6/24/13
Become a Fan
  (19 fans)

opednews.com

(In March I wrote the following summary of Michael Hastings' book The Operators. Because of Hastings' untimely death, and because Hastings sent email about an FBI probe hours before his death, the following summary may be of interest to the readers.)

In The Operators: the wild and terrifying inside story of America's war in Afghanistan, war journalist Michael Hastings describes the self-inflicted downfall of General Stan McChrystal and the quagmire of the war in Afghanistan.


Michael Hastings and Valerie Jarrett at Barack Obama's victory party, 2012 by Wikipedia

Hastings was working for Rolling Stone, and McChrystal and his staff, who tended to treat McChrystal as a rock star, thought it a cool idea to invite Hastings along for a trip to Paris and Berlin. Hastings observed and recorded unprofessional partying and critical comments about the Obama Administration. The publication of the article led to McChrystal's forced resignation. In short, McChrystal's vanity and desire for media coverage led to his downfall.

Hastings' article describes the major disconnect between the view of soldiers on the ground and the political consensus in Washington, D.C.  The soldiers on the ground know how badly the war is going and how incompetent the Afghan government is.  Karzai is thoroughly corrupt, hates the Americans, and is quite possibly mentally ill.

The following paragraph about the Afghan army blew my mind:

The stats: Only 20 percent of new recruits can read.  One out of four deserts the ranks on a regular basis. Child rape is endemic in both the police and Afghan armies; in the south, Afghan soldiers take boys as young as eight or ten years old as lovers, dressing them up as girls at parties.  It makes the Western forces very uncomfortable. ("Boys are for pleasure, women are for children" is a popular expression in the country.)

Afghan soldiers often steal, are often very stoned, are lazy and cowardly, and they like practicing killing on American soldiers:

In one five-and-a-half month period, 16 percent of American causalities are caused by Afghan security forces killing soldiers in the American Army. In a three-year period, at least fifty-eight NATO soldiers have been killed [by Afghan soldiers]". ISAF decides they better classify the study, and quick,. The study gets classified, but not before it gets leaked to The Wall Street Journal.

"U.S. soldiers perceived that 50 percent of the ANA [Afghan National Army] were Islamic radicals."  NATO has already spent more than $30 billion training the Afghan security forces. Police officers regularly accept bribes; it's the least trusted institution in a land of mistrusted institutions.

A lot of the book consists of Hastings accounts of his interviews and interactions with General McChrystal, McChrystal's staff, and soldiers in Afghanistan.  Most of the military guys have little respect for the politicians -- which got McChrystal fired.

The most enlightening chapter of Hastings' book, for me, is "The Arena," wherein Hastings presents his theory that soldiers' highest duty is to protect their honor. What's important isn't money and isn't even winning wars. Men like General McChrystal

were never driven by money -- like a bloke from Goldman Sachs -- but by something "mightier than the self, a great endeavor undertaken by men who knew what it meant to be in the arena.' " The idea of the arena came from Theodore Roosevelt's famous speech, trashing critics and valuing the experience of risk above all else. " There was little difference in victory or failure. The sacrifice of blood had an almost spiritual value beyond politics, beyond success, beyond good and evil" It was as brave and honorable to take a bullet for the brotherhood as it was to cover up a bullet's mistake. It didn't matter that in Afghanistan the U.S. military had come up short again and again. What mattered is that they tried. The simple and terrifying reality, forbidden from discussion in America, was that despite spending $600 billion a year on the military, despite having the best fighting force the world had ever known, they were getting their asses kicked by illiterate peasants who made bombs out of manure and wood. The arena acted as a barrier, protecting their sacrifices from the uncomfortable realities of the current war -- that it might be a total waste of time and resources that historians would look back on cringing.

Hastings thinks that Obama was coerced or tricked by General McChrystal and others at the Pentagon into supporting the escalation and nation-building in Afghanistan, against Obama's better instincts, against Biden's wishes, and against the wishes of Obama's supporters. "One of the reasons he agreed to the escalation in Afghanistan was because he felt he would be politically vulnerable if he didn't -- he might look weak on national security, he couldn't overrule his generals. He is allied on this issue mostly with Republicans, people who don't like him and are never going to support him anyway."

Obama ran as an anti-war candidate in 2008, but faced with decisions as commander-in-chief he gave into the militarists and repeatedly went out of his way to pursue "centrist" policies.

Obama did this repeatedly: reach out to the Republicans with significant compromises that infuriated his supporters, only to be handed his head on a platter when the Republicans moved further to the right. They sure played him for the fool. Either that or Obama just isn't as liberal as he portrayed himself to be while campaigning.

Next Page  1  |  2

 

http://waliberals.org

DFA organizer, Democratic Precinct Committee Officer, writer, and programmer. My op-ed pieces have appeared in the Seattle Times, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and elsewhere. See http://WALiberals.org and http://TruthSite.org for my writing, my (more...)
 
Add this Page to Facebook!   Submit to Twitter   Submit to Reddit   Submit to Stumble Upon   Pin It!   Fark It!   Tell A Friend
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Writers Guidelines

Contact Author Contact Editor View Authors' Articles

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

The myth that the Dems are as bad as the Repugs

Failure to prosecute: why Obama is having trouble passing health care reform

Undividing the Left: Hard-core and Soft-core progressives

"They're out to get us!" On trust, distrust, and organizing for change

The Battle over I-1098 in Washington State

Why Abortion Isn't Murder

Comments

The time limit for entering new comments on this article has expired.

This limit can be removed. Our paid membership program is designed to give you many benefits, such as removing this time limit. To learn more, please click here.

Comments: Expand   Shrink   Hide  
2 people are discussing this page, with 2 comments
To view all comments:
Expand Comments
(Or you can set your preferences to show all comments, always)

It is unfortunate that the only journalist willing... by Lynne Berman on Monday, Jun 24, 2013 at 1:27:46 PM
It's the first time the MSM has published eulogies... by Carol Davidek-Waller on Monday, Jun 24, 2013 at 1:53:59 PM