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Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Despicable Article II

Lost in the bruhaha over the Rolling Stones article is the fact that the article itself is not only poorly written but total nonsense. Let's start with the worst part of the piece.

The COIN doctrine, bizarrely, draws inspiration from some of the biggest Western military embarrassments in recent memory: France's nasty war in Algeria (lost in 1962) and the American misadventure in Vietnam (lost in 1975). McChrystal, like other advocates of COIN, readily acknowledges that counterinsurgency campaigns are inherently messy, expensive and easy to lose.

That's a total distortion of reality. The Counter Insurgency manual that General Petraeus wrote in 2006 is an academic look at counter insurgency. To say that it draws on Algeria and Vietnam is to conveniently and selectively pick out only certain parts of the manual. The fact is that Petraeus is a military historian as well as tactician. The manual draws on all the counter insurgency campaigns of the last three hundred years, Algeria and Vietnam included, but those two aren't the only ones, and they aren't the models. Instead, the counter insurgency manual is an analytical look at counter insurgency. So, Algeria and Vietnam are not models. Rather strategy from both along with dozens of other campaigns is looked at and analyzed, both for what was done right and wrong.

This is just one of many parts in which the authors' bias is on display. What's truly shameful is how selectively the author quotes McChrystal. Does anyone really believe that in the month that Hastings followed McChrystal around that all he did was swear, complain, and disparage his superiors? That's unlikely and yet those are the only quotes used. Does anyone really believe that every single soldier is complaining and down on the mission? Yet, that's the only quotes that are in the article.

It's very easy to tell any story you want when you spend a month following someone and then are tasked to write something that takes fifteen minutes to read. That's exactly what happened here. The author has no use for the military. He has no use for the Afghanistan theater. He probably has no use for McChrystal himself and that's exactly the sort of article he wrote.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

sorry to say your journalistic behavior is no different from what is published by Hastings.