Friday, June 26, 2009

Connect The Dots

(Please excuse my lateness in weighing in on this... and in fact for not posting much lately. Lots to see and do lately, changes coming about, and I hope you keep checking back, as I will be able to discuss those changes openly soon, and they will have a significant impact on this blog.)

Michael Cohen is proving that he is still the guy who just can't connect the dots. His interest regarding COIN doctrine is bordering on a fetish, and his desperation to discredit the doctrine is palpable. As I've said, this is self-defeating. Cohen's primary advocacy dovetails very nicely with the capabilities that need to be developed in order to successfully shepherd Afghanistan and Pakistan through this very troubling and dangerous period of history in Central Asia. It boggles my mind that this man is so frightened that he literally loses his ability to reason, grasping at straws ranging from COL Gian Gentile's writings to Celeste Ward's article in the Washington Post cautioning an overcommitment to COIN.

Neither COL Gentile nor, from what I can gather, Ms. Ward really seem to agree with Mr. Cohen... he just gloms on to any argument that he finds remotely supportive. Desperation and fear are the mother of many inventions, most of them decidedly unhelpful, but the cowardly logic of Michael Cohen is reaching the point of ridiculousness. It seems to have become something of a mission for him to discredit the doctrine and its practitioners, which is peculiar given Mr. Cohen's self-admitted lack of any specific military knowledge. The natural question that one would have is, "What value is Mr. Cohen's opinion on the subject of military doctrine?"

The answer would be, "Absolutely none. Mr. Cohen has nothing of value to offer on the topic of military doctrine."

Why, then, would a man with absolutely nothing to offer... and knows it... on a subject such as warfighting doctrine suddenly be chiming in with vigor against the only doctrine that has even been remotely credited with any success in the insurgencies that we find ourselves embroiled in currently?

He's secretly a North Korean operative that has undergone plastic surgery and was implanted in a think tank in order to derail the United States by offering the worst possible advice imaginable.

I'm just kidding. But, on this issue Mr. Cohen is just about as helpful as a surgically altered North Korean in a Washington think tank. He is motivated not by any desire to see the current foreign policy objectives of the United States achieved, but in fact by a desire to see them fail. To that end, he advocates stridently against the propagation of COIN doctrine, even though he has absolutely no value as a military commenter. Why would he be afraid of success in Afghanistan?

Many seem to view COIN as the future of war and based on the "success" of COIN in Iraq, they seem to believe that the United States is uniquely positioned to do it . The question for many COIN-danistas seems to be not whether and when we should do counter-insurgency, but how the US can do it more effectively...

...The military needs to be making clear to the civilian leadership precisely how difficult counter-insurgency can be and why they should think twice about trying to implement such an approach....

...As I've written here many times the clearest and most unambiguous lesson that we should draw from the war in Iraq is that we should never get involved in such a war again - and that any benefit we accrue from invasion, occupation and nation-building will almost never be worth the cost.

*NOTE TO COHEN: It's COINdinista... just like Sandinista, but with "COIN" instead of "Sand." Let's get our terminology right, okay?*

So let me get this right... COIN seems to be successful in Iraq (although Cohen will also, when convenient, side with those who say that it wasn't in any way responsible for any success in Iraq,) Cohen is and always has been opposed to the war in Iraq or any similar action in the future... and so he feels that he should interfere with the military so that no counterinsurgency will ever be attempted again.

Of course, that was a few days ago. Here's what he said last night:

While there are signs of political reconciliation occurring on the local level and across the country there is a real question as to whether Iraq will turn into a stable country or will it turn in a violent and more deadly direction. While those of us who vehemently opposed this war would like nothing more to be proven wrong - and see a prosperous and stable Iraq rise from the ashes - that possibility is seeming more and more uncertain these days.

No, Sir; I don't believe that he would like to be proven wrong. I've shown Michael Cohen he was wrong before. He doesn't like it. I'll probably get another whiny personal email from him for posting this. No, I don't think that he does want to be proven wrong... because here's the very next paragraph he wrote...

So, the next time you hear a commentator talk about the success of the surge or the effectiveness of counter-insurgency tactics or what worked in Iraq can work in Afghanistan or that "the security situation is manageable" in Iraq be very dubious. What we are seeing today in Iraq is pretty compelling evidence that the institutionalized political reconciliation, which was supposed to accompany the US surge in 2007, is not occurring at a pace that inspires confidence.

As another matter of humor, Cohen quoted Juan Cole in that post. Talk about dubious. Oh, Cole is on target sometimes, I'm sure... but how can you tell? When an "academic" is as politically driven as Cole, it's hit or miss. He wouldn't admit that he was wrong if God were to explain it to him personally.

Here's the biggest problem that I've got with Cohen, and Cole, for that matter; they claim to analyze, but their analysis is politically motivated. It has nothing to do with getting the analysis right. Sometimes they are close, sometimes on, sometimes waaaaay off. There is no consistency, because the answer drives the question. That is not intellectually honest nor is it in the best interests of the country. Cohen, and his ilk, want what they want... and they are willing to say anything to get it. It's the old, "The end justifies the means," argument in action.



    What is wrong with everyone! I feel like I'm on crazy pills!

    Keep up the good work!

    Best Regards,
    PeTA: Cruel to Children
    Where do Donations to the HSUS Go?.

  2. "...The military needs to be making clear to the civilian leadership precisely how difficult counter-insurgency can be and why they should think twice about trying to implement such an approach...." WTF?

  3. While I agree with you on the issue, Cohen raises one point that a lot of "Coindinistas" seem reluctant to adress: The economic and logistical cost of a 10year+ engagement in Af/Pak. To take my own country, Norway, who has approx 500 in country now: Our homeland defense is such that we have standing troops enough to perhaps defend parts of Oslo for approx three days should something crazy happen. All resources are totally focused on our Out of Area mission, all our coming aquisitions are bound to the US profile and looks set to be so for the next 10 years. All this is expended on a mission with no clear endstate formulated, no cost-estimate presented, and with little real change seeming to be coming to a commandstructure wich is deeply baffling. I think COIN might be a better sell if some sort of fiscal honesty was part of the presentation package, as well as some sort of plan that could be understood by non-military folks. Just sayin.

  4. fnord: How to pay for something is always a question. The question is how do we want to pay for it? Cohen would like to convince everyone that we can choose not to pay this cost and that will be the end of it. This is a gap in his analysis... an alternative that does not bear significant national security risks for ourselves and our partners; as well as the Central Asian region.

    It's similar to having a transmission problem that you've been ignoring for a long time. Finally the problem gets bad enough for you to have your mechanic go in and take a look at it. The mechanic becomes aware that it is not only a transmission problem, but a problem actually started because of an engine problem. They will be expensive to fix, but you can also just decline the work and take the car as is... and take your luck as it comes.

    Cohen advises the latter. He offers nothing but an assertion that all the people who really do have an understanding of the region are dead wrong. There will be no repercussions to abandonment, he claims. He goes on to make the ridiculous claim that abandonment of the task at hand will actually increase our security and our standing in the world.

    The funny thing is that Cohen actually advocates engine maintenance. But in this case, he's afraid that developing the ability to fix transmissions and engines at the same time will mean that engine work will always involve transmission work. Coindinistas point out that engine and transmission work at the same time is both difficult and expensive, and that preventive maintenance on engines will prevent the costlier and more difficult transmission work. This is where Cohen misses his cue, and where he could actually bring value. His missing the point here is where he lets us all down; because he does have some really good points on some other issues. Like engine maintenance.

    Cohen's analysis is driven by the fear that if we are successful in the counterinsurgency in Afghanistan, it will become our default mode of operation. Most of his other assertions comes from this flawed and fearful premise. When he makes a good point, it is an obvious one... like this stuff is expensive... but he offers no reasonable alternative.

    While Cohen offers no sensible alternative to our current needs in AfPak, he does offer a method for avoiding such situations in the future; developing the capability to influence positively before situations degrade to the point that military intervention would ever need be considered.


All comments will be moderated due to spamming of old posts.