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Petraeus "Understands the Frustration" With Spending "Enormous Amounts of Money," But He’ll Keep Spending It If You Let Him

Posted by on March 17th, 2011

From our partners at

By Robert Greenwald and Derrick Crowe

When testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee, General David Petraeus told senators that he understood the frustration with the Afghanistan War, conceding that “we have spent an enormous amount of money.” The general has a gift for understatement.

We are spending $2 billion a week on this futile, brutal war that’s not making us safer, and even that “enormous” amount of money (to say nothing of the lives lost or broken) hasn’t hammered the square peg of a military solution into the round hold of the crisis in Afghanistan. News flash: if you can’t turn the war effort around with 30,000 more troops at a cost of $1 million per troop, per year, maybe the military solutions aren’t solutions after all.

To say the American people are “frustrated” is putting it very, very mildly. Despite the mainstream media’s best efforts to pretend there’s no war on (last year, Afghanistan coverage comprised about 4 percent of all news coverage), a large majority of Americans say they follow Afghanistan news closely. The vast majority of Americans now tell pollsters they want Congress to act to speed up troop withdrawals, and most likely voters want all troops out within a year. A record 64 percent now say that the war hasn’t been worth fighting, a 20-percent jump in opposition since President Obama announced his latest troop increase.

Millions of Americans are still burning in an economic hell while our leaders waste precious resources on Hellfire missiles. Just one statistic drives it home: the poverty rate for children in the U.S. may soon hit 25 percent. And while those kids are living in hotels or on the street, or wondering where their next meal will come from, Petraeus will keep right on “understanding” your frustration while he spends almost $10 billion a month that could be used right here at home, getting those kids and their families back on their feet. We can’t let that happen.

Brave New Foundation’s Rethink Afghanistan is fighting to get the truth out about this war while the mainstream media sleeps on it. If you’re fed up with this war that’s not making us safer and that’s not worth the cost, join Rethink Afghanistan on Facebook and Twitter, and join a local Rethink Afghanistan Meetup. Together we can make sure Petraeus and politicians in Washington, D.C. really understand our frustration and bring our troops home.

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to “Petraeus "Understands the Frustration" With Spending "Enormous Amounts of Money," But He’ll Keep Spending It If You Let Him”

  1. danielet says:

    Two main tragedies make the Petraesu/McChrystal self-promoting COIN arguments beside the point:

    (1) We are NOT fighting a counter-INSURGENCY war in Afghanistan but a counter-REVOLUTIONARY war. So where is our counter-REVOLUTION? The Taliban offers a revolution to Afghans in the form of swift Sharia justice in the order of an Islamic Emirate regime. That may seem unattractive to many of us, but most Afghans at the local rural level have shown to find this quite desirable, preferable to the American created Karzai Regime that Petraeus himself has labeled “an organized crime syndicate.”

    Petraeus wrote a PhD thesis on the Vietnam War. Reading it would fully exhibit his shallowness of intellect and lack of historic understanding. A commander, as Napoleon had said, should be a top intellectual and scholar in order to be a successful general. There is little doubt of the mediocrity and incompetence, respectively, on the part of Petraeus and McChrystal on that score. One need only read their writings.

    There is a critical lesson in the case of Vietnam. There too we sought to save South Vietnam by destroying it. So we plastered the countryside with indirect fire. The result was that the surviving peasants took refuge massively in the cities controlled by the dominant firepower, the Saigon regime. If effect, you might say, the peasant “sea” left the guerrilla “fish” high and dry, by becoming a swell of urban population. As Le Duc Tho, the No2 in the Hanoi regime, admitted in 1984, because the VietCong all through the Vietnam War had no urban infrastructure, it lost the population by 1967. It is here that one man– A CIVILIAN– “Blowtorch” Komer– under LBJ's direct authorization, imposed CORDS, a resettlement program on the MACV military commanders. As Hanoi Radio lamented back then, South Vietnam went from 85% rural to 75% urban in a few years, and these refugees were absorbed into a CORDS created urban economy to become what Hanoi Radio called “petites bourgeois,” meaning a nation of shopkeepers integrated into that urban economy. Hanoi was, therefore, forced to resort to the Tet Offensive of January 1968 before accepting negotiations at Paris. As a result of the Tet Offensive, the cities held but the VietCong was decimated. From 1968 on the war was between ARVN/US regular troops and Hanoi's regulars coming from North Vietnam, PAVN. The war was thus won by our side; it remained for Hanoi to win by diplomacy at Paris followed by peace treaty braking invasion of South Vietnam with every soldier it had.

    The only revolution Americans ever proved capable of is URBANIZATION. Since the end of WWII, the US had urbanized Third World rural population thus immunizing them to Communism. Ironically, the Maoist “proletarian” (industrial workers) revolution could only succeed by lying to peasants, promising them their own plots of land after it took over. Of course, its goal was to industrialize agriculture in state farms and collectives where the peasants become mere farm hands. By creating small entrepreneur enterprises in towns, the US has, over and over again, defeated Communism with capital rather than with ordnance.

    Donald Rumsfeld pushed Bush into Iraq because he thought he could win that war quickly with “shock&awe,” pull out, and then dethrone Bush in 2004 to replace him as president at that, Rumsfeld’s last shot at the presidency. Our military leadership's incompetence and parrot-on-the-shoulder submissiveness to Rumsfeld as star whores can only be matched in outrageousness to SecDef Rumsfeld's incompetence. As Iraq fizzled out into a smoldering mess, Petraeus– the perpetrator of a fraudulent “surge victory” which all analysts attribute to the change of position of Iraqi Sunnis rather than to any plan Petraeus, an ambitious careerists, might have proposed—Petraeus/McChrystal sought a repeat of that Iraq Surge in Afghanistan in hope of a victory in the latter, covering-up the actualities of the former. So Petraeus bullied Obama into putting his man McChrystal in charge; then McChrystal bullied Obama into increasing US forces in Afghanistan by 60,000 troops by now.

    Rather than learn from our rural–>urban revolutionary victory of Vietnam, Petraeus/McChrystal pushed for more troops, diluting them into the Afghan countryside. As in Vietnam, military success would have require over a million troops over a decade and $trillions (according to their own COIN Warfare thesis), which we then didn't have, having just been fleeced into national poverty by Wall Street.

    Nevertheless, had NATO earlier created its own cities in the then safe Northwest of Afghanistan where young people could be educated and trained for real economic development, leaving the countryside to the Taliban and constricting our perimeter of defense to a manageable form, we could have created our own URBAN REVOLUTION. Instead, we sent in ever more troop intel blind, language deaf and culture dumb to kill Afghans pointlessly in self-defense.

    (2)A religious Muslim State harboring alQaeda is far more unacceptable for the nations of Central, South and East Asia…that includes Russian and China. They had, however, created a SHANGHAI COOPERATIVE ACCORD (SCA) because they knew that our reason for the war in Afghanistan was not to get binLaden but to seize access to Central Asian oil and develop pipelines that carry it to Pakistani warm water ports on the Indian Ocean. All the full and informal members of SCA then deemed stopping the US grab of territory more important than eliminating alQaeda and its Jihadi offshoots in the region. Had the US pulled out of that region, the SCA would have been left to work out its own internal dialectics to resolve the Afghan Taliban/alQaeda problem at their expense. Instead, so that the Chinese go easy on our $30 trillions in debt, Obama allowed Petraeus to, in effect, make our soldiers into mercenaries of the Chinese, going after the Taliban while Chinese firms go after the assets of Central and South Asia safely.

    Our Pentagon is a treasure trove of evidence of our military incompetence and corruption. But it is allowed by law a level of secrecy that far surpasses that of the CIA. Consequently, at best, only our grand children will know what scumbags are and have been the Joint Chiefs of the last decade. But Americans don't care as they cheer on the troops, thank them for their “service” and shake their hands while saying to themselves: “ain't my kid going to war” now that ours is an all volunteer army.

    Yet, as we waste our brave kids and what’s left of our national treasury to the incompetence of Petraeus and to his ambition of becoming another Ike-like president, we should stop and ask who and what will replace all our victims and waste to that incompetence?

  2. danielet says:

    JUST SAY “NO”!

    Vietnam was not a bad dream but a test from which America chose to awaken as if only a bad dream, run away and forget about it. But this supposed “no consequences” defeat began our sorry adventure in Afghanistan. Seeking to make-up for it, the Carter Administration pushed the Soviets into an invasion of Afghanistan so we could punish them for making the Vietnam War possible. From the sidelines, in Afghanistan, the US defeated the USSR. But look at where we are now. The worst of it is that we are there with an all-volunteers army and so Americans free of fear of conscription say, “ain't my kid going to this war” and forgot about it– until the issue of money that could be spent at home to save the economy Wall Street destroyed better than binLaden could have ever dreamed possible when he planned 9/11—hurt every American “disconnected” from the war. Yet, no thought is given to the troops sent in to fight in the Muslim World intel blind, language deaf and culture dumb, thus shooting in the dark at anonymous people in order to stay alive. In Vietnam there was indeed a learning curve. Gradually we realized that we're not fighting a counterINSURGENCY war but a counterREVOLUTIONARY war and we came up with our own “counter” to the Communist peasant revolution, URBANIZATION. Our saturation bombing of South Vietnam's countryside (“injun country”) massacred many peasants so the survivors ran off to the cites becoming urban refugees. Because the Viet Cong– as admitted by Hanoi leader Le Duc Tho– had no urban infrastructure, it could do nothing to terrorize people in the cities. You might say that the peasant “SEA” had left the Viet Cong “FISH” high and dry as it became, in the words of Radio Hanoi, “petites bourgeois” in towns and cities. Thanks to “Blowtorch” Komer a civilian effort, CORDS, to resettle these people in the cities turned South Vietnam from 85% rural to 75% urban. That is the reason for the Tet 1968 Offensive against all the cities. Hanoi’s Tet Offensive failed and the war was turning around. But that American people decided “time's up” and we turned victory into retreat at the Paris Peace Talks.

    We now have TWICE the Four Stars generals in the military that we had during Vietnam, when the military was TWICE as big. Without war, they would be pink-slipped, as were all the generals after Vietnam. Considering that many went into the military because they couldn't cut it in civilian life, to have another defeat strung around their necks would not be good for their civilian execs prospects. And so, every time they fail in Bush-it's “war on terror,” like bully kids, they insist: “DO-OVER, DO-OVER!!” And so another general takes over and his predecessor gets quietly kicked upstairs at the Pentagon. The facts are all buried in top secret file cabinets or on disks until a Wikileaks comes along.

    Petraeus is not the real “surge-king.” In fact, that title goes to a general that had retired and undercut the others by going through political channels to Bush-it. His protégé, Petraeus got the credit and it was left to Petraeus to betray us by BS-ing legislators and Americans into thinking that we're winning in Iraq. Wanting another shot at surge, Petraeus had McChrystal, his West Point classmate, take over Afghanistan. McChrystal’s job was to bully Obama into sending MORE troops for MUCH longer so Petraeus could look like the twice-over winning SURGE KING and run for president. But, though he did a PhD thesis on Vietnam, Petraeus repeated all the errors of that war in Iraq. Then, afterward, he wanted a DO-OVER in Afghanistan. He insisted that his skill as the BS general would, with the help of his peanut gallery of “expert” parrots, would see him through. It's as if a really incompetent SURGEon botched a SURGEry on you and, because you didn't die, he insists you can't stop him from going back into you to do another SURGEry because his reputation as a SURGEon is at stake.

    Now we have a ballyhooed Helman/Kandahar campaign going, run by the Marines. We are told that we're doing great but it will take TEN YEARS to find out how it ends! Petraeus is counting on YOU, the “ain't my kid going to war” Americans to accept that because you can't accept defeat. But when you think that HALF the troops are mom and dad reservists who enlisted for SIX YEARS ONLY– thinking that their job is to defend America, not to become expeditionary troops for the Empire on endless “stop loss” combat tours– you might realize that all Petraeus is doing is creating more widows and orphans on the home front, betting on how much you hate defeat and how ready you are to say: “NOBODY FORCED THEM TO ENLIST SO LET THEM DO THE JOB THEY’RE PAYED FOR!”.

    Vietnam was a reality for a decade for me. My involvement with the “war on terror” began with surviving 9/11 at the World Trade Center. I have no interest in the decade long Bush-it “Crusades” that Obama has foolishly made HIS OWN war. But I feel that so long as Petraeus gets to treat America's patriotic volunteering kids as I would never allow him to treat my biological kids, I can't go back and continue my retirement catching up on molecular medicine and writing the history of the Vietnam War I am determined to finish before I die.

    So, I beg you all to look at how incompetent, mendacious, inflexible and careerists are our Four Stars and stop them before they destroy the one thing you can't NOT CARE about: America's failing economy. Even if you're a scum bag who doesn't give a damn about OUR kids and the Afghans dying and suffering, at least think of how you will die broke unless you stop this hemorrhage of our nation's remaining wealth which we desperately need to recover. In the end Petraeus's and Obama's war is OUR war, carried out in OUR name; so the consequences will get to us all unless we stop it no matter how much cash you have on hand.

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