Thursday, April 28, 2011

Reshuffling the Neocon Chairs in the Obama Military and Intelligence Apparatus

On April 26, 2011 , it was reported that there would be a major reshuffling of the neocon deck chairs in the Obama Administration's military and intelligence apparatus. Leon Panetta will be nominated to replace Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense. Panetta is currently CIA director. As DCI, Panetta did nothing to reform the CIA. Indeed he was a strong proponent of covering up Bush era illegalities there. As the current revolts in the Arab world show the CIA under Panetta's leadership continues to do an awful job predicting future events or being ready to react to them when they happen. In fact, the CIA has played a not insignficant role in poisoning relations with the people in that part of the world by its support for the dictatorships that oppressed them. It has been doing much the same with its drone programs in Pakistan. Somehow people don't like the idea of the CIA bombing their country at will. Go figure.

David Petraeus is slated to be named to Panetta's position at CIA. Petraeus originally made his reputation training the Iraqi army. He actually failed miserably at this, but Petraeus has always been an opportunist and known to move on to another position before the shit hits the fan. Bush chose him to lead the "surge" in Iraq. Petraeus had just written the book on counterinsurgency. It never seemed to matter to anyone, especially Bush, that the surge was never going to come close to meeting the conditions which Petraeus had himself laid down for a successful COIN strategy. Sectarian violence did decrease during Petraeus' stewardship in Iraq, but it had nothing to do with him. His big sweeps, in fact, tended to inflame the situation and increase US casualties. What saved him was a split between the traditional Sunni power structure and more radical jihadist elements. The traditionalists sought him out and he was able to buy them off for a couple hundred million a year, a nominal sum considering the $140 billion or so that it was costing us to keep an army in the country. Sectarian violence also decreased because, by that time, the Shiites had been largely successful in their ethnic cleansing campaigns in Baghdad and elsewhere and were quite content to sit on and consolidate their winnings. It should be remembered that the actual rationale for the surge was not to decrease sectarian violence but to achieve the conditions for a political settlement between the Iraq's Kurds, Shia, and Sunnis. The surge failed to even come close accomplishing this.

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