Top Billing! Adam Elkus –Banquo in Bandit Country
One long, deadly night in an isolated outpost in a place few Americans could place on a map. A tragic turn of events and Americans dead. The headline could stand in for a dizzying number of places from the Horn of Africa to Afghanistan. So why Benghazi? Why has it stuck in the spotlight while the others have not?
Partisanship is a big reason. Like many post-Bush security debates, it’s easier to point fingers when the other guy is sitting in the Oval Office. But this doesn’t really begin to get to the bottom of the puzzle. The public has evinced little interest in Benghazi. The political press has mostly forgotten about it. So why do DC insiders fight so heavily over it? And why is CNN claiming in its latest scoop that the “CIA is involved in what one source calls an unprecedented attempt to keep the spy agency’s Benghazi secrets from ever leaking out?”
Benghazi is the Banquo’s Ghost of the post-Bush counterterrorism wars, a lingering symbol of a dangerous flaw within a consensus national security policy that many in Washington have convinced themselves is the way to fight the wars of future while avoiding a heavy ground presence. To be sure, the Macbeth analogy here is not a one-to-one mapping. The “ghost” here is a metaphor for the lingering specter of the disaster, its dead, and what the torching of the consulate represents for the indirect strategy. Like Banquo, the specter lingers during what should be a feast and time of celebration. But a review of the strategic landscape in the so-called “arc of conflict” reveals little to celebrate.
To understand why, it’s important to briefly review some parts of the Benghazi affair that have mostly escaped attention in the political obsession with tactical marginalia….
SWJ Blog (Gian Gentile) Counterinsurgency: The Graduate Level of War or Pure Hokum?, (Robert Bunker)-How Caribbean Organized Crime is Replacing the State and (William Olson) The Continuing Irrelevance of Clausewitz
….This notion of counterinsurgency warfare requiring a special martial skill set because of its so-called difficulty that conventional armies by nature do not have is nothing new in modern history. Starting in the 19th century, the French and British armies began to treat small wars (an earlier moniker for counterinsurgency) as a special form of war requiring officers with unconventional skills who can transform the hidebound conventional armies that were resistant to change.
Counterinsurgency experts, especially since the Vietnam War, have written histories of various cases of counterinsurgency warfare with the idea that a special form of war requires special skills as a foundational premise. For example, in The Army and Vietnam, Andrew Krepinevich argues that the American Army lost the war because it could not break out of its conventional war mindset that focused on the abundant use of firepower instead of the correct and special methods of COIN designed to win hearts and minds.
Unfortunately, counterinsurgency is not the graduate level of war, it is simply war. Moreover, the notion that counterinsurgency wars require the soldiers who fight them to possess special skills is not supported by historical evidence. And contrary to what writers like Krepinevich and Cassidy say, counterinsurgency wars have not been won or lost by the tactical methods of the armies that have fought them. Instead, as historian Douglas Porch argues, they were won or lost “because the strategic context in which the wars were fought defied a tactical remedy.”
Raúl goes on to speculate about other possible reasons for the President’s ploy. My take is that Obama had already lost face with Liberals over drone war and related issues. And I don’t think there is one genuine Leftist or civil libertarian in the world who has any illusions left about what Obama is.
Yet it was the American Leftist, law professor and political scientist Stephen F. Diamond who alone pegged Obama during the Democratic presidential primary campaign in early 2008. After studying Obama’s political career up to that point he said that Obama was no Leftist; that he was an authoritarian — although what specific type, he wouldn’t speculate at that early stage.
“Isn’t that just like a Leftist,” I observed sarcastically at the time. “When one of their own turns out to be a monster they say, ‘Oh that’s not a real Leftist.’” But I listened to Steve despite my grumbling, and made sure Pundita readers heard what he had to say. I am very glad I did.
The American democracy may be strong enough to survive the Obama presidency, but there are many younger democracies that can count themselves lucky he wasn’t born there.
Not the Singularity (Steve Hynd) – NSA Surveillance Didn’t Help Identify New Alleged Al Qaeda Threat and ( Matthew Elliot) – Weekend NSA Reader
BLACKFIVE – Brian Stann – The Dark Side of a Warrior
Slightly East of New – Incestuous delusion
Nick Carr – PRISM and the New Society
Bruce Schneier – XKeyscore and Scientists Banned from Revealing Details of Car-Security Hack
Presentation Zen –Good science makes for good story
Eric Drexler – Transforming the Material Basis of Civilization:
The Long Now Foundation blog – Language may be much older than previously thought
Aeon Magazine – Out of the Deep
Studies in Intelligence –Intelligence Officer’s Bookshelf
NRO – Jeb’s Education Racket
Democracy Journal – An Elite Deserving of the Name