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David Petraeus and the Art of Staying the Same | The American Conservative

Posted by M. C. on February 28, 2020

But what was really accomplished here? Frankly, having Petraeus speak laid down some simple but important markers. He was never a man of “big ideas,” just a man with political survival instincts who always said exactly what people wanted to hear. But I think we saw his limits here.

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/state-of-the-union/david-petraeus-and-the-art-of-staying-the-same/

David Petraeus hasn’t changed a bit.

There was some vexation over his invitation to speak at today’s Quincy Institute/Foreign Policy conference, considering the event, entitled, “A New Vision for America in the World” was widely seen as a coming out of sorts for the ascendent restrainers and non-interventionist movement in Washington. Quincy, having brought together the powerhouse backers of both the Koch and Soros orbits, is in a way a manifestation of this moment, and a real Left-Right alignment against the old world order.

In response to some of the negative Petraeus buzz, some suggested that his presence might indicate that he is “coming around” to the new foreign policy approach, that the place to be right now is among a growing consensus against endless, expeditionary wars, and for rethinking our role in the world.

His remarks Wednesday, however, put that rosy notion to rest, quick.

In short, the “sycophant savior” believes the U.S. still needs to be deployed abroad (including Afghanistan) to control terrorism; we “almost always have to lead,” and yes, this “campaign” can be forever, as long as we are willing to spend the blood and treasure to sustain it.

And he really, really doesn’t like the word “interventionism.”

“Are we ‘intervening’ by having 30,000 troops in Korea? What do you mean by intervention?” he quipped to Jonathan Tepperman, editor of Foreign Policy, who had gently raised the idea that the American public was ripe for new non-interventionist approaches. It was Petraeus’s first flash of real personality in the 30-minute exchange, but it came off a bit testy. He ticked off a few other “endless” (and ultimately positive) U.S. occupations, including Germany and Japan. The usual jive, and a non-starter with this crowd—they’d heard that tune before.

Plus, wasn’t this supposed to be about a “new vision for America in the world”? The problem with Petraeus, a former general and CIA director who spent years around yes-men and failed up into a lucrative consulting career for the military industrial complex, is that he hasn’t had to be “new” at anything. Like Wednesday, he sprinkles a few anecdotes about being “downrange” in the last six years of his military career, and how “nobody wants to end endless wars more than those who have been fighting endless wars,” before offering assessments and solutions that are barely distinguishable from what he has prescribed for audiences over the last decade. More importantly, there is no sense of enlightenment or growth. Just a stubborn adherence to the status quo.

His “big ideas” amount to the same old dogma. If we leave Afghanistan it will create a haven for terrorists. Like Iraq. Then we’ll have to do something about it. “The problems just don’t go away.”

“Generally the U.S. has to lead,” he said, because we spend more and have superior capability than anyone else in the world. He talked about global drone surveillance, like a paternalistic watchman in the sky. “Having said that, we have to have allies, coalitions… And we want Muslim coalitions. This is a fight for the heart of the Muslim world, this is an existential struggle.”

And, “you cannot counter terrorists with just counterterrorism operations.” There has to be a “comprehensive civilian-military campaign,” although “host nations” will be doing all the fighting and negotiating. In other words, we’ll continue to put our troops and contractors in vulnerable positions in places where really angry people want to kill us, begetting more angry people who want to kill us the longer we have a presence there, while pouring all of our resources down an interminable black hole. But if we don’t lose a lot of guys and no one feels the pinch in the pocketbook, “then people will regard it like the long commitment we’ve had in Korea.”

Was he so elevated at the end of his career, so disconnected that he did not see the devastating toll the multiple deployments had taken on our armed forces? Does he not acknowledge the PTSD, the toxic exposures, the brain injuries? The painful family separations? Sure the military has “sustained” its tempo over the years, but at what cost to the rank-and-file?

“I was wondering when he was going to say something ‘new,’ something we haven’t heard in the last 20 years,” charged Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., who spoke after Petraeus had made a beeline for the door, no time for questions from the audience. Khanna, unlike the man once referred to as “King David,” has only grown in stature as he has found common ground with other restrainers across the spectrum over the last two years. He even spoke at TAC’s foreign policy conference in 2018. And he stayed for questions.

There seems to be no other explanation for Petraeus’s presence here other than he provided a good foil for the non-interventionists who followed—Khanna, Will Ruger, Mark Perry, and others. We suppose someone thought he added a sheen to the proceedings, though there was really no opportunity for a “debate” as suggested. His appearance took place in a carefully controlled format—a “conversation” opposite a sympathetic host (Tepperman) who actually spent time afterwards “clarifying” some the ex-general’s comments for the audience (he’s a general, “not a politician”). Cue laugh track.

But what was really accomplished here? Frankly, having Petraeus speak laid down some simple but important markers. He was never a man of “big ideas,” just a man with political survival instincts who always said exactly what people wanted to hear. But I think we saw his limits here. He knew what we wanted to hear, and he couldn’t say it. It will take a very long time for someone like him to come over to our way of thinking (if ever) because his very identity, his livelihood, is tied to the old order and any new approach that would cut off lifeblood to his world is a threat.

There are countless men and women just like Petraeus in Washington. Quincy will have a hard time winning them over. And maybe that doesn’t matter, just as long as they know, at some point, that a new vision, is winning. His hasty exit today suggests that at some level, he knows that already.

UPDATE 2/27 : This Free Beacon article notes that Petraeus’s remarks drew serious fire from members of the Quincy Institute as well, and appears to confirm my own suspicions, that the ex-general was brought in by the Foreign Policy magazine partner, not Quincy.

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The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity : The Koch-Soros Quincy Project: A Train Wreck of Neocon and ‘Humanitarian’ Interventionists

Posted by M. C. on February 15, 2020

As libertarian intellectual Tom Woods once famously quipped, “No matter whom you vote for, you always wind up getting John McCain.” That is exactly the world Koch and Soros want. It’s a world of Davos with fangs, not Mainstreet, USA.

This Quincy Institute champion of “restraint” concludes his latest piece arguing that:

Now is not the time for a revolution in U.S. strategy. The United States should continue to play a leading role as a security provider in global affairs. 

How revolutionary!

But Koch/Soros don’t really want to end endless US interventions overseas. They want to fund the same old think tanks who are responsible for the disaster that is US foreign policy, re-brand interventionism as non-interventionism, and hope none of us rubes in flyover country notices.

To paraphrase what Pat Buchanan said about Democrats in his historic 1992 convention speech, the whitewashing of Washington’s most egregiously interventionist institutions and experts as “restrained” non-interventionists is “the greatest single exhibition of cross-dressing in American political history.”

http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2020/february/15/the-koch-soros-quincy-project-a-train-wreck-of-neocon-and-humanitarian-interventionists/

Written by Daniel McAdams

Those hoping the non-interventionist cause would be given some real muscle if a couple of oligarchs who’ve made fortunes from global interventionism team up and pump millions into Washington think tanks will be sorely disappointed by the train wreck that is the Koch/Soros alliance.

The result thus far has not been a tectonic shift in favor of a new direction, with new faces and new ideas, but rather an opportunity for these same old Washington think tanks, now flush with even more money, to re-brand their pet interventionisms as “restraint.”

The flagship of this new alliance, the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, was sold as an earth-shattering breakthrough – an “odd couple” of “left-wing” Soros and “right-wing” Koch boldly tossing differences aside to join together and “end the endless wars.”

That organization is now up and running and it isn’t pretty.

To begin with, the whole premise is deeply flawed. George Soros is no “left-winger” and Koch is no “right-winger.” It’s false marketing, like the claim that drinking Diet Coke will make you skinny. Both are globalist oligarchs who continue to invest hundreds of millions of dollars to create the kind of world where the elites govern with no accountability except to themselves, and “the interagency,” rather than an elected President of the US, makes US foreign policy.

As libertarian intellectual Tom Woods once famously quipped, “No matter whom you vote for, you always wind up getting John McCain.” That is exactly the world Koch and Soros want. It’s a world of Davos with fangs, not Mainstreet, USA.

A ‘New Vision’?

Anyone doubting that Quincy is just a mass re-branding effort for the same failed foreign policies of the past two decades need look no further than that organization’s first big public event, a February 26th conference with Foreign Policy Magazine, to explore “A New Vision for America in the World.”

Like pouring old wine into new bottles, this “new vision” is being presented by the very same people and institutions who gave us the “old vision” – you know, the one they pretend to oppose.

How should anyone interested in restraining foreign policy – let alone actual non-interventionism – react to the kick-off presentation of the Quincy Institute’s conference, “Perspective on U.S. Global Leadership in the 21st Century,” going to disgraced US General David Petraeus?

Petraeus is, among many other things, an architect of the disastrous and failed “surge” policy in Iraq. He is still convinced (at least as of a few years ago) that “we won” in Iraq…but that we dare not end the occupation lest we lose what we “won.” How’s that for “restraint”?

While head of the CIA, he teamed up with then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to develop and push the brilliant idea of directly and overtly training and equipping al-Qaeda and other jihadists to overthrow the secular government of Bashar Assad. How’s that for “restraint”?

When a tape leaked of Fox News contributor Kathleen T. McFarland meeting with Petraeus at the behest of then-Fox Chairman Roger Ailes to convince him to run for US president, Petraeus told her that the CIA in his view is “a national asset…a treasure.” He then went on to speak favorably of the CIA’s role in Libya.

But the absurdity of leading the conference with such an unreconstructed warmongering interventionist is only the beginning of the trip down the Quincy conference rabbit hole.

Rogues’ Gallery of Washington’s Worst

Shortly following the disgraced general is a senior official from the German Marshal Fund, Julianne Smith, to give us “A New Vision for America’s Role in the World.” Her organization, readers will recall, is responsible for some of the most egregious warmongering propaganda.

The German Marshal Fund launched and funds the Alliance for Securing Democracy, an organization led by such notable proponents of “restraint” as neoconservative icon William Kristol, John McCain Institute head David Kramer, Michael “Trump is an agent of Putin” Morell, and, among others, the guy who made millions out of scaring the hell out of Americans, former Homeland-Security-chief-turned-airport-scanner-salesman Michael Chertoff.

The Alliance for Securing Democracy was responsible for the discredited “Hamilton 68 Dashboard,” a magic tool they claimed would seek and destroy “Russian bots” in the social media. After the propaganda value of such a farce had been reaped, Alliance fellow Clint Watts admitted the whole thing was bogus.

Moving along, so as not to cherry pick the atrocities in this conference, moderating the section on the Middle East is one “scholar,” Mehdi Hasan, who actually sent a letter to Facebook demanding that the social media company censor more political speech! He has attacked what he calls “free speech fundamentalists.”

Joining the “Regional Spotlight: Asia-Pacific” is Patrick Cronin of the thoroughly – and proudly – neoconservative Hudson Institute. Cronin’s entire professional career consists of position after position at the center of Washington’s various “regime change” factories. From a directorial position at the mis-named US Institute for Peace to “third-ranking position” at the US Agency for International Development to “senior director of the Asia-Pacific Security Program at the [neoconservative] Center for a New American Security.” This is a voice of “restraint”?

Later, the segment on “Ending Endless War” features at least two speakers who absolutely oppose the idea. Rosa Brooks, Senior Fellow at the “liberal interventionist” New America Foundation, wrote not long ago that, “There’s No Such Thing as Peacetime.” In the article she argued the benefits of “abandon[ing] the effort to draw increasingly arbitrary lines between peacetime and wartime and instead focus[ing] on developing institutions and norms capable of protecting rights and rule-of-law values at all times.” In other words, war is endless so man up and get used to it.

This may be the key for how you end endless war. Just stop calling it “war.”

Brooks’ fellow panelist, Tom Wright, hails from the epicenter of liberal interventionism, the Brookings Institution, where he is director of the “Center on the United States and Europe.” Brookings loves “humanitarian interventions” and has published pieces attempting to convince us that the attack on Libya was not a mistake.

Wright himself is featured in the current edition of the Council on Foreign Relations’ publication Foreign Affairs arguing that old interventionist shibboleth that the disaster in Iraq was not caused by the US invasion, but rather by Obama’s withdrawal.

This Quincy Institute champion of “restraint” concludes his latest piece arguing that:

Now is not the time for a revolution in U.S. strategy. The United States should continue to play a leading role as a security provider in global affairs.

How revolutionary!

The moderator of that final panel in the upcoming Quincy Institute first conference is Loren DeJonge Schulman, a deputy director at the above-named Center for a New American Security. Before joining that neoconservative think tank, Schulman served as Senior Advisor to National Security Advisor Susan Rice! Among her other international crimes, readers will recall that Rice was a chief architect of the US attack on Libya.

Schulman’s entire career is, again, in the service of, alternatively, the war machine and the regime change machine.

The Quincy Institute’s first big event, which it bills as a showcase for a new foreign policy of “restraint,” is in fact just another gathering of Washington’s usual warmongers, neocons, and “humanitarian” interventionists.

Quincy has been received with gushing praise from people who should know better. Any of those gushers who look at this first Quincy conference and continue to maintain that a revolution in foreign policy is afoot are either lying to us or lying to themselves.

But Wait…There’s More!

Sadly, the fallout extends beyond just this particular new institute and this particular event.

Those who continue to push the claim that Koch and Soros are changing their spots and now supporting restraint and non-interventionism should be made to explain why the most egregiously warmongering and interventionist organizations are finding themselves on the receiving end of oligarch largese.

Just days ago a glowing article in Politico detailed the recipients of millions of Koch dollars to promote “restraint.” Who is leading the Koch brigades in the battle for a non-interventionist, “restrained” foreign policy?

Politico reveals:

Libertarian business tycoon Charles Koch is handing out $10 million in new grants to promote voices of military restraint at American think tanks, part of a growing effort by Koch to change the U.S. foreign policy conversation.

The grants, details of which were shared exclusively with POLITICO, are being split among four institutions: the Atlantic Council; the Center for the National Interest; the Chicago Council on Global Affairs; and the RAND Corporation.

The Atlantic Council has been pushing US foreign policy toward war with Russia for years, pumping endless false propaganda and neocon lies to fuel the idea that Russia is engaged in an “asymmetric battle” against the US, that the mess in Ukraine was the result of a Russian out-of-the-blue invasion rather than an Obama Administration coup d’etat, that Russia threw the elections to Putin’s agent Trump, and that Moscow is seeking to to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids.

The Atlantic Council’s “Disinfo Portal,” a self-described “one-stop interactive online portal and guide to the Kremlin’s information war,” is raw, overt war propaganda. It is precisely the kind of war propaganda that has fueled three years of mass hysteria called “Russiagate,” which though proven definitively to be an utter fraud, continues to animate most of Washington’s thinking on the Left and Right to this day.

The Atlantic Council, through something it calls a “Digital Forensic Research Lab,” works with giant social media outlets to identify and ban any independent or alternative news outlets who deviate from the view that the US is besieged by enemies, from Syria to Iran to Russia to China and beyond, and that therefore it must continue spending a trillion dollars per year to maintain its role as the unipolar hyperpower. Thus, the Atlantic Council – a US government funded entity – colludes with social media to silence any deviation from US government approved foreign policy positions.

And these are the kinds of organizations that Koch and Soros claim are going to save us from Washington’s interventionist foreign policy?

Equally upsetting is the “collateral damage” that the Koch/Soros alliance and its love child Quincy hath wrought. To see once-vibrant and reliably non-interventionist upstarts like The American Conservative Magazine (TAC) lured away from the vision of its founders, Pat Buchanan and Taki Theodoracopulos, to slip into the warm Hegelian embrace of well-funded compromise is truly heartbreaking. It is to witness the soiling of that once-brave publication’s vindication for being right about Iraq War 2.0 while virtually all of Washington was wrong.

Incidentally, and to add insult to injury, it is precisely these kinds of Washington institutions who most viciously attacked TAC in those days who now find themselves trusted partners and even “expert” sources!

TAC! Beware! It’s not too late to wake up and smell the deception!

How to End Endless Wars (The Easy Way)

If a Soros-Koch alliance was actually interested in ending endless US wars and re-orienting our currently hyper-interventionist foreign policy toward “restraint,” it would simply announce that not another penny in campaign contributions would go to any candidate for House, Senate, or President who did not vow publicly in writing to vote against or veto any legislation that did not reduce military spending, that imposed sanctions overseas, that threatened governments overseas, that appropriated funds in secret or overtly to destabilize or overthrow governments overseas, or that sent foreign “aid” to any government overseas.

It would cost pennies to make such an announcement and stick to it, and the result would be a massive shift in the American body politic toward what the current alliance advertises itself as promoting.

But Koch/Soros don’t really want to end endless US interventions overseas. They want to fund the same old think tanks who are responsible for the disaster that is US foreign policy, re-brand interventionism as non-interventionism, and hope none of us rubes in flyover country notices.

To paraphrase what Pat Buchanan said about Democrats in his historic 1992 convention speech, the whitewashing of Washington’s most egregiously interventionist institutions and experts as “restrained” non-interventionists is “the greatest single exhibition of cross-dressing in American political history.”


Copyright © 2020 by RonPaul Institute. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given.

 

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We Have Just Been Handed the Pentagon Papers of Our Generation

Posted by M. C. on December 14, 2019

Long ago, after the insane, absurd advice he received from his senior military advisers in the Bay of Pigs and Cuban missile crisis fiascos, President John F. Kennedy, himself a decorated World War II veteran, wisely concluded, “The first thing I’m going to tell my successor, is watch the generals, to avoid feeling that just because they’re military men, their opinions on military matters are worth a damn.”

https://outline.com/a486Js

Danny Sjursen

I remember the day I broke. I was a young captain in command of an 82-man cavalry troop in the heart of Taliban country—in Kandahar, Afghanistan—and I was deep into one of my regular manic episodes. At that moment, I was in the midst of writing an angry—definitely hopeless—stream-of-consciousness screed, which topped out at some 8,000 words, to my sociopathic squadron commander. My verbose, yet well-argued, treatise expressed my opposition to his next planned assault (with my unit in the lead) into yet another remote, abandoned, booby-trap-riddled village. I was by then obsessed with protecting my troopers from needless death or maiming. Mid-sentence, one of my subordinate lieutenants rushed into the office to remind me: “Sir, you have to give a memorial address in like 30 minutes!” Shaken out of my trance, I remembered (had I really forgotten?) that it was almost time to give my obligatory speech in remembrance of one of my young soldiers, blown to pieces just days before.

I hid my surprise, assured the lieutenant I’d be ready soon, and pulled out a 5″ x 7″ index card to hastily jot down some bullet notes for my impending address. Normally, I thrive in public speaking, but suddenly I drew a frightful blank. I don’t know anything about this kid, I realized. He was young, new to the unit, and—though I’d heard glowing reports on his discipline and work ethic—I couldn’t conjure a single personal detail about, or one-on-one interaction with, him. Maybe a better officer would have. Still, I threw something together, gave a passable speech—which was, as always, filmed for the soldier’s family—then retreated to the designated “smoke pit” to share some cigarettes with his platoon mates. They were sort of numb, frightened for their own fates, yet alarmingly resigned to their personal hellscapes. None, not a one, had any particular affinity for the Afghan people, nor did they believe in the mission. I listened carefully as they swapped stories about their fallen friend. Then it struck me: I’d never be able to explain to this kid’s mother just what he’d died for on that dusty trail in rural Afghanistan.

That was back in 2011, year 10 of what has become America’s 18-year war—and its longest ever. Unlike the war in Iraq, which I’d joined just after West Point graduation, I’d entered Afghanistan already skeptical of the nation’s post-9/11 wars. The trick was to escape a year-long tour with as many of my troopers’ lives (and limbs) as possible. When our unit finally made it home in January 2012—though with three fewer lives and several fewer limbs—I rapidly fell apart. It was a legitimate, if sudden, mental health collapse, brought on, I suppose, the moment I stopped white-knuckling it through 18-hour days borne under the substantial weight of command responsibility.

In the years that followed, I lost two wives and never quite shook bouts of crippling depression and anxiety. And the war, it never stopped churning. But I also became an outspoken anti-war activist, criticizing the wars—in Afghanistan, in particular—which I long knew were unwinnable and based on lies.

Earlier this week, we learned that our leaders also knew the war was a fiasco, doomed to fail. But, unlike many of us, they chose not to speak out. Instead, as The Washington Post revealed in a series of stunning articles based on what it has labeled the Afghanistan Papers—a trove of previously classified documents that it is calling a “secret history of the war”—dozens of consecutive generals and senior US officials had repeatedly lied about, omitted, and obfuscated the facts to give an illusion of progress in that war.

Examples abound. As early as 2003, Bush’s hawkish secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, apparently admitted, “I have no visibility into who the bad guys are” in Afghanistan. More than a decade later, during the late Obama years, retired Army Lt. Gen. Doug Lute (once the Afghan War “czar”), conceded to one of the interviewers, “We didn’t have the foggiest notion of what we were undertaking.” Perhaps even more troubling, in a throwback to Vietnam War–era stat-fudging, one unnamed army colonel confessed, “Every data point was altered to present the best picture possible.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Michael Scheuer Non-Intervention.com

Posted by M. C. on July 28, 2017

http://non-intervention.com/

The quote below comes from an article about the future of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan that was in the USA Today Network on 14 July 2017. The article discusses several U.S. options in Afghanistan, but the one that takes the cake is the brainchild of two champions of the war in Iraq, who — as Tucker Carlson correctly said about Max Boot — can be relied on to propose ideas that will start unnecessary and always losing wars for the republic. The article’s authors are Michael O’Hanlon, an analyst from the Brookings Institution, who was orgasmic over invading Iraq, and the former general/now-felon David Petraeus, who lost the war in Iraq and helped lose the one in Afghanistan The article refers to some recent work by these two brain-dead beauties. Read the rest of this entry »

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