Thursday, September 3, 2009

We Have Become "Control Freaks" in a World We No Longer Rule Unilaterally

Robert C. Koehler is able to see the trees in a forest or differentiates facts from fantasy that seems to be pervasive even in a Democratic run government. "Broken Government: How Republican Rule Destroyed the Legislature, Executive, and Judicial Branches," by John W. Dean.

Jim Kawakami, September 3, 2009, .

Winners Lose: War Commands Debate on Its Own Terms

September 3, 2009 "
Tribune Media Services" -- The situation in Afghanistan is serious. We’re getting “out-governed” by an enemy so ruthless it’s bringing services to a desperate people ignored by the legitimate government we installed.

But our eight-year quagmire . . . excuse me, war . . . can still be won, says Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. and NATO commander in that country, who recently completed a review of the situation: “Success,” he commented, “is achievable and demands a revised implementation strategy, commitment and resolve, and increased unity of effort.”

Before I salute crisply and shout “yes, sir!” I’d like to quote from an essay by Robert E. Draper called “Keys to Real Success — Going Beyond ‘Winning’ and ‘Losing’ in Business With a Positive Attitude.” I’m stuck, see, on the concept of “winning” this war, because human intelligence has mostly moved beyond this concept in every area of life except international relations, which remains a multi-trillion-dollar global bastion of Bronze Age thinking.

“It is important,” writes Draper, “to first realize that success, as most businesspeople know it, is always trailed by the shadow of the fear of failure and, therefore, is not real success at all. That’s because real success cannot be found in a ‘winning’ that includes a potential for loss. . . .

“To succeed at work requires adopting the mindset . . . of good card players,” he goes on. “Like them, you play not for occasional fits of excitement, but to survive. This requires that you give long-range thinking priority in your mind, and that you never perceive a current gain that will be trailed by a long-term loss to be acceptable or even attractive.” ...

Morally speaking, what to do is remarkably obvious, graspable by virtually every human being on the planet, even, I believe, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates. When pressed by reporters following news of the McChrystal report’s completion, Gates said, according to Reuters, that “any recommendation for more forces would have to address his concerns that the foreign military presence in Afghanistan could become too large and be seen by Afghans as a hostile occupying force.”

There are 103,000 U.S./NATO troops in Afghanistan now; (Contract workers greatly outnumber our troops.) the country has been bombed (15,000 tons and counting) and occupied for eight years, with maybe 8,000 civilians killed in the process (God knows how many wedding parties bombed and strafed), many more injured and displaced — and the U.S. secretary of defense feels we’re pushing the limits of Afghan tolerance. Up the troop ante and they’ll think we’re a hostile presence. ...

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